It’s hard to say it was fun while it lasted but Middlesbrough’s short Premier League tenure officially came to an abrupt end on Monday.
The Boro’s latest 3-0 defeat at the hands of presumptuous PL title chasers Chelsea ensured the club’s trip back down to the Championship after just one season in England’s top flight.
Middlesbrough joins Sunderland as two of the three sides confirmed for relegation this season, and while it may not be surprising to see the Boro head back down to the second-tire of English soccer, it is still heartbreaking for both the players and the staff.
Over the course of the 2016/17 season, the Boro have racked up just five PL wins, none of which have come against sides currently in the top half of the table.
Much of the club’s lack of success can likely be attributed to the team’s former manager, Aitor Karanka, who was sacked by Middlesbrough back in mid-March.
Caretaker manager Steve Agnew has guided his side to four positive results (1W, 3D) since taking over, including a 2-2 draw in their previous match against Manchester City, however, the Boro simply haven’t been able to display the quality necessary to stay up another season.
“We’re absolutely devastated,” Agnew said. “We worked so hard to get back in the Premier League last season. To lose tonight and lose our Premier League status is a massive and bitter disappointment.
“Now we have to finish off strongly before a summer of reflection. It’s about Middlesbrough Football Club and how we can turn it around next season to get this club back where it belongs.”
Agnew isn’t the only one reflecting on the disappointment though.
Defender Ben Gibson, who is the only Boro player to play every minute of the PL season up until this point, expressed his hurt after the loss.
“It’s not just tonight, it’s a full season,” Gibson told Sky Sports. “From top to bottom we haven’t been good enough. Players, staff, myself.
“They [Chelsea] were much better in every department. It could have been 4,5,6-0. It was the lowest point of my career. We’ve got to put it right.
“In fact it’s the lowest point of my life, not just my career. It means that much.
“The fans didn’t stop singing, wherever we’ve been this season they’ve been the same. The fans deserve Premier League football and we have to find a team to do that
“We have to reflect on what’s gone wrong.”Follow @MattReedFutbol