By Dave Roberts.

7 wins, 4 draws and that ‘questionable’ defeat at the hands of Leeds – what a banger of a return from the last 12 games of the season! 

Add to that, 10 goals plundered in the last 3 games, the delight of a Leicester double, a Chelsea win, and a Latte-Lath in sparkling end-of-season form and you really do see an end-campaign that fills the new season hopes to the gunnels.

The Ivorian’s 1-in-2 return has been brilliant. Injury robbed him of hitting the 20-goal mark in the season, but his 18 strikes, of which 11 have come in his last 12 games, have more than justified the £4.5m gamble Boro took on him, pulling him in from Atalanta after an entire career on loan.

Racked by the hangover of a big summer rebuild, then an injury nightmare no amount of medication could make you forget, Boro’s finale’s been made even more impressive by the emergence of leaders.

Jonny Howson’s been, well, Jonny Howson. His 1yr deal this week’s a belter of an early signing as he brings more than just his game on-the-field. His mega-experience will be used to the full to help mould and guide the fresh emerging talent in the dressing room. Hopefully when Jonny does finally hang up the boots, he’ll find a coaching or ambassadorial role at Hurworth.

Old Bald-ininho himself has been immense. Matt Clarke’s been more rock-like in the Boro back line than Dwayne Johnson himself. What a final half of the season he’s had in his new lease of life – long may that continue. Then there’s Luke Ayling, his 32 year age tag belies his enthusiasm and passion, celebrating every goal and contributing hugely ‘Gliles-like’ with 8 assists in 11 games.

This experience will blend massively with talent pointing to a very interesting season ahead.

The season-maker, or breaker however, will be the summer business. The ‘Geeee-zette’ listed 10 players that they consider likely candidates to move on. Greenwood and Thomas are good shouts to return to parent clubs. There’s a real chance of keeping Ayling, Carrick has already hinted on that one. 

O’Brien’s an interesting one, coming back strong from major injury and looking good, but has that injury robbed him of the volume of playing time needed to stake his claim for a permanent move. The Teesside jury seems to be split 50/50 on that.

And what of Hackney? London agents are already suggesting West Ham is his future home. The Teesside Talisman looks destined to depart, but the rumoured £18m that could be coming in the opposite way, if made available and spent well, could bring in the new faces so badly needed to really give the current squad a boost. 

All in all, it looks a very interesting and exciting few months ahead.