Meet the opposition | Middlesbrough

26th August 2022
First team
Darragh Lenihan

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

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 13 of the 14 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 tally recorded during that season.

They reached the play-offs in 2018 and will hoping to return this season after missing out last term.

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

How’s their form?

Alex Mowatt

Boro are winless from six games in all competitions this term, losing their last fixture away from home at Reading.

They have drawn games against fancied promotion contenders West Brom and Sheffield United, but suffered defeat to Queens Park Rangers on their travels.

Who’s the gaffer?

Chris Wilder

Chris Wilder. The former Sheffield United defender's playing career saw him feature for 11 clubs, including stints at Rotherham, Bradford and Notts County. 

Having started his managerial career at Alfreton, Wilder moved on to Halifax, and achieved promotions during his stints with Oxford United, Northampton Town and Sheffield United.

It was at his hometown Blades that he secured promotion back to the Championship and then on to the Premier League, before a ninth-place top-flight finish in 2020.

He left as relegation neared the following year, and was appointed at Middlesbrough following Neil Warnock’s departure last autumn.

Who's the captain?

Jonny Howson

Jonny Howson. The experienced midfielder took over the armband from striker Britt Assombalonga in the early stages of last term and has been club captain ever since.

The 34-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?

Chuba Akpom

Matt Crooks has proven himself to be a reliable and effective Championship player over the last few seasons, firstly across two stints in the second tier with Rotherham and now with Boro.

Crooks was top scorer with 11 goals for the Teessiders last term, and is already off the mark this season, but he is also a committed and determined defensive presence.

His 6ft4in frame means he is a nuisance in both boxes, but he offers far more than just his height.

Isaiah Jones' combination of pace and trickery have made him a potent attacking weapon for Boro, and he was linked with a move away from the Riverside over the summer.

He had nine assists and a solitary goal – which came against the Swans last season – and he opened his account this season with a strike against West Brom.

Former Arsenal striker Chuba Akpom has two goals to his name although a recent knee injury has disrupted his start to the campaign.

Elsewhere, defender Dael Fry is an important figure at the back with a deceptive turn of pace, while experienced Championship campaigners Alex Mowatt and Darragh Lenihan have also been recently recruited by Boro.

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