Should Middlesbrough be walking the Championship?
By Anthony Kendrick - Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/Ant_Kendrick - with thoughts from Andy Clark and Owen Meek.
Middlesbrough have been named as the big favourites to win the Championship with the bookies. At a glance, it seems easy to see why, they have spent around £40m on players and have appointed Garry Monk as manager, which has been praised. But is there more to consider?
Garry Monk is a good appointment, as he is much more attacking minded coach than Aitor Karanka. The times have changed, with teams being rewarded for playing attacking football, with Brighton and Huddersfield both winning promotion, and Bournemouth now an established Premier League club. In pre-season the team have been more aggressive, and when the cost to the fans of tickets, this is much better value for money. Fans like entertainment is the bottom line.
When the signings are considered, Ashley Fletcher, Martin Braithwaite and Britt Assombalonga are three strikers who could all potentially be very good in the Championship and could be trusted as the main striker in their own right. Goalscorers are crucial in the Championship. But it may be Jonny Howson from Norwich that is the best signing, with his ability to create and get forward he may turn out to be an unsung hero for Middlesbrough this season.
To view Middlesbrough's £40m spend in isolation would be unfair, though. The club have recouped over £20m in player sales, with Viktor Fischer, Jordan Rhodes and Gaston Ramirez all leaving the club. In addition, Negredo's loan deal ending and Victor Valdes leaving on a free, both reducing the wage bill.
So yes, with their strike force it is very difficult to look past Middlesbrough to win the league. It perhaps isn't as clear-cut as Newcastle were last season, but I would be very surprised if we are discussing the club in The 72 Show next season!
Check out our full discussion on Sunderland in this week's episode of The 72 Show -