Meet the opposition | Middlesbrough

2nd December 2021
First team

As Swansea City prepare to take on Middlesbrough on Saturday, we take a closer look at the history and recent form of the Boro.

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 12 of the 13 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 have missed out in each of the last three seasons.

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?


Prior to last weekend’s fine win at Huddersfield, Middlesbrough had gone five games without a win, a sequence which included the departure of Neil Warnock.

They have won four of their 10 league games at the Riverside this term.

Who’s the boss?

Chris Wilder

Chris Wilder. is a former Sheffield United defender whose playing career saw him feature for 11 clubs, including time at Rotherham, Bradford and Notts County. 

Having started his managerial career at Alfreton, Wilder moved on to Halifax and nearly got the Shaymen back into the Football League.

He managed to complete that feat with his next club, Oxford United, before making the move to League Two Northampton Town in 2014.

He saved the Cobblers from relegation shortly after his appointment, and built on that positive start to eventually claim the League Two title with a joint-club record of 99 points in a season in 2016.

Wilder then returned to his hometown club - he was born in the Stocksbridge area of Sheffield - to secure promotion back to the Championship and then on to the Premier League.

He led the Blades to a ninth-place finish in the top-flight, but left the club the following campaign with relegation all-but assured.

Was appointed at Middlesbrough following Neil Warnock’s departure last month.

Who’s the captain?

Jonny Howson. The experienced midfielder recently took over the armband from striker Britt Assombalonga and has retained it ever since.

The 33-year-old has made more than 500 league appearances across a career taking in lengthy spells with Leeds United, Norwich City and now Boro.

Howson made the move to Teesside in 2017, and has played in a number of positions – including centre-back – during his stint at the Riverside, underlining his versatility and nous.

Who are the key men?

Matt Crooks

Midfielder Matt Crooks has made an immediate impact following his arrival from Rotherham, and already has four goals and two assists to his name.

Sol Bamba and Paddy McNair bring plenty of experience and nous to the heart of the Boro defence, while Duncan Watmore will be looking to kick on after his brace against Huddersfield; the forward having netted nine goals last term after joining the club with the campaign well under way.

On the flank, Marcus Tavernier offers a threat with his ability to drive infield and link with others and has a goal and an assist to his name this season.