After months of underachievement and frustration, Gordon Strachan has chosen to bring his time at the Riverside to the end. Quite possibly, he jumped before he was pushed.
This was not a predictable disaster. On paper, Strachan at Middlesborough looked set to work. You had an experienced no-nonsense manager with a track record of success. You had a club with a half-decent squad and, more importantly, a chairman willing to open his cheque book.
So what went wrong?
After spending millions this summer, Strachan no longer had the excuse that he has doing what he could with someone else’s squad. His signings have flopped and he has had to take the fall for their mediocrity. It will be intriguing to see whether the new man gets more out of these players. My bet is that we’ll see a few of them being moved on.
Strachan never looked the manager he had been. Perhaps five years away from the English game left him rusty. His Boro team never looked anywhere near as motivated as the hard-working Southampton and Celtic sides he created. His increasingly tetchy relationship with the media suggested that he wasn’t particularly enjoying his return.
As an aside, I wonder if Boro may not live to regret letting Gareth Southgate go. I reckon he might well develop into a very decent boss. And they sacked him while he had Boro in the play-off places, how they would kill for that a year on. . .