Middlesbrough followed up their opening day defeat at home to Leicester with an embarrassing 2-1 loss against League Two Accrington Stanley at the Riverside, and Tony Mowbray’s charges will have to stop the rot at Charlton this weekend if they want to keep promotion hopes alive.
Boro travel to the Valley on Saturday to face Chris Powell’s Addicks – whose morale boosting 4-0 home win over Oxford United last night followed a 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth – before hosting surprise opening day victors Blackpool and a trip to promotion-fancied Wigan Athletic.
The two losses continued the north east club’s woeful run of two wins since February and Mowbray must land a few transfer targets quickly to freshen up a squad lacking in confidence.
The Riverside club were hoping for a tilt at the top six themselves this season, after a strong start to the last campaign fizzled out into a 16th place finish, but on current odds the 9/1 on them going down looks much more attractive than the 10/1 about Lukas Jutkiewicz and co gracing the Premier League next year.
Former Celtic boss Mowbray admitted after the 2-1 loss to Nigel Pearson’s Foxes on Saturday that he had been frustrated in his attempts to strengthen his squad and failed with a bid to bring Ross McCormack in from Leeds United this week, although the Smoggies are close to a £1m deal for Bristol City winger Albert Adomah.
Mowbray will be expecting a lot from experienced heads Jonathan Woodgate, Dean Whitehead and Stuart Parnaby, and will be hoping Rhys Williams can recapture the form that saw him linked with a host of Premier League clubs 18 months ago.
The early signs are not good, however, and after last night’s loss to rookie manager James Beattie’s spirited Stanley, few teams in the Championship will fear the trip to Teesside in what could be a seminal year for all the wrong reasons at Boro.