Since his switch from Leeds United at the start of the season, 38-year-old Garry Monk was been given full backing from chairman Steve Gibson on BBC Radio Tees with one order - to “smash the league”. This order was followed with a full squad overhaul, including ten transfers costing over £45 million.
However, after Middlesbrough's 2-1 loss away to third place Bristol City on Sunday, the boss’ full backing looks to be gradually weakening, as fans continue to lose confidence with Monk and his players in the stands and on social media. The Teeside-club sit 9th in the table, six points behind 6th place Derby County and the Sky Bet Championship Play-offs.
Reports of sacking on Monday morning
Due to his sides recent form, Monk cancelled the squad’s day off from training on Monday morning amid reports on social media that his sacking had all-but gone through. Although the sacking reports were untrue, the pressure on Monk is definitely not, with his side severely underachieving after 20 games.
Monk himself said post-match against Bristol City that: “It’s unacceptable. I can only apologise to our fans who’ve paid hard cash and spent a lot of time following us. Ultimately, it's my responsibility which I take on my shoulders."
Players took to Instagram after the game, with target man Rudy Gestede (@rudygestede) writing that: “We must do better & concentrate on getting back on track on Saturday." Irish shot-stopper Darren Randolph also posted on his personal Instagram (@randzofficial): “Big week of training ahead to put things right, after a disappointing weekend #Boro “
Former Republic of Ireland international Clinton Morrison said on Channel 5: “if you want to win promotion, you need to beat the sides around you. But I do believe Monk is the right man. They've got a lot of talented players and they'll be right there come the end of the season."
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But how does Middlesbrough and Monk’s form compare to their most recent seasons?
- Middlesbrough under Aitor Karanka in 2015/16 was 1st going into the Christmas period, Garry Monk’s side is 9th.
- Middlesbrough had claimed 40 points in 2015/16, at the same stage this year they’re on 29.
- The team had a goal difference of +17 in 2015/16, they now have one of just +5.
- Karanka’s side had lost just four games in 2015/16, Monk’s have lost seven, just two off the 15/16 total already.
- The 2015/16 team had a win percentage of 60%, this season they have one of just 40%.
- The 2015/16 team cost £30 million, this year’s team costs over £15 million more.
- In addition, Leeds last season Monk had a win percentage of 50%.
Boro's next match is at home against play-off rivals Ipswich Town, who are currently 7th. Considering that Middlesbrough have six games in 23 days over the Christmas period, this could be the perfect time for the team to pick up some good form. But without improvement, the untrue reports on Monk’s sacking could soon be genuine.