Meet the opposition | Middlesbrough

1st December 2020
First team

As Swansea City prepare to take on Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium, we take a closer look at the team from Teeside.

What’s their story?

Having spent all bar one season between 1995 and 2009 in the Premier League - with a best finish of seventh in 2005 - Middlesbrough have been in the Championship for 11 of the 12 campaigns since.

A brief return to the top-flight in 2016 saw them struggle in front of goal, coming straight back down with only five wins and 27 goals, the lowest recorded during that season.

They reached the play-offs in 2018 but missed out last term.

Boro famously reached the UEFA Cup final in 2006 while, in that successful 2004-05 season, they secured League Cup glory by beating Bolton in Cardiff.

The Riverside club also reached an FA Cup final during that time, but fell short against Chelsea in 1997, losing 2-0.

How's their form?

Djed Spence

Solid, but Boro have suffered a recent dip with two defeats in their last three games against Norwich and Huddersfield.

The Teessiders have proved tough to break down, conceding just nine goals so far this season, and had put together a 10-match unbeaten streak prior to their last trio of games.

Who’s the boss?

Neil Warnock

Neil Warnock. Something of a promotion specialist, Warnock is seeking a ninth promotion of a near 40 years in management.

Indeed, some Swans fans will recall that as long ago as 1994 they were locking horns with Warnock’s Huddersfield Town side at Wembley as Frank Burrows’ men won the Football League Trophy.

The 72-year-old has hinted at retirement, but there is no sign of the fire dimming for the passionate Yorkshireman.

The former winger started in management with Gainsborough Trinity in 1980, and has since managed Burton, Scarborough, Notts County, Torquay, Huddersfield, Plymouth, Oldham, Bury, Sheffield United, Crystal Palace, QPR, Leeds, Rotherham, Cardiff and – now – Middlesbrough.

Who’s the captain?

Britt Assombalonga

Britt Assombalonga. The 27-year-old is in his fourth season with Middlesbrough, having joined from Nottingham Forest in the summer of 2017.

After first emerging at Watford, He had loan spells at Wealdstone, Braintree and Southend, with his fine form for the latter leading to a move to Peterborough.

Twenty-three goals in 43 league appearances only enhanced his reputation as a reported £5million switch to Forest followed in 2014.

Injuries hindered him during his time in the East Midlands, but he was a regular scorer when fit, with his brace helping Forest escape relegation in 2017 before his move to Teesside in a club-record £15million deal, where he has scored 43 goals in 135 league appearances.

Who are the key men?

Marvin Johnson

Assombalonga has three goals to his name, but it is Marvin Johnson who tops Boro’s goalscoring charts with four to his name.

George Saville has contributed two goals and three assists from midfield, while the likes of Marcus Tavernier and Djed Spence bring real dynamism in wide areas.

Dael Fry is maturing into an excellent Championship defender, while they have added former Fulham goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli between the sticks.