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Boro can have "an exciting season", says Warnock

"If we do some good business, we can give anyone a run for their money this year..."

3 October 2020

Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock believes his side are capable of competing at the right end of the Sky Bet Championship table this season, saying "team spirit can go a long way" in the division.

The veteran boss, who has now started a league season with 12 different Clubs during his career,  successfully avoided relegation with Boro in his interim spell last season, and is hoping for an improved campaign in 2020/21.

Speaking to presenter Mark Clemmitt on the Official EFL Podcast, Warnock says the club's pre-season has given him plenty of optimism, adding that "anything is possible" if they can remain in the mix.

“They’re a good group and they’ve done ever so well during pre-season," he said. "We will bring some players in, and so I think we can have an exciting season. If any team is going to walk away with it, I think it will be Watford, with the squad they’ve got.

"We’ve got a difficult start, probably the most difficult of anyone, but you have to play everyone and we’re in good spirits. We’re a little short on the bench and don’t have an awful lot to change the formation. We’re looking at the mid-table area, and then anything’s possible when you’re in that area.

"I can see eight or nine teams having a better chance than us [of making the Play-Offs] at the moment, but I’d have said that at Cardiff as well. If we can be around the top 10 at Christmas time, we’ll have a chance.

"If we do some good business, we can give anyone a run for their money this year, I think."

As for Warnock himself, while he will be hoping to change Boro's fortunes, he says his managerial style remains unchanged as he approaches 1,500 games in the dugout.

“I love the Championship," he added. "My plan was to finish at Sheffield United in 2005/06! I was disappointed with how I left there, and so I think that made me more determined, and I’m so glad I stayed on. I loved my time at Palace and QPR, they were two fantastic Clubs and I had great times there.

"When I was offered the Middlesbrough job, I was in my car within half an hour – I’m really pleased, it’s got me going again. I see the lads doing things now and enjoying themselves and that’s what I want them to do, play with enjoyment and put smiles on faces.

“I don’t think you change. I don’t rant as much at fourth officials these days, but I don’t think you can ever lose that or change who you are as a manager. When I look, back there are certain things I regret over my career, but you’re bound to have that.

"I’ve always been a passionate man and I want my players to be passionate; there are things I don’t like, so I have my time and place to be strict, but at the same time I want them to come into training and think it’s a great day to do so. I was talking to someone about my eight promotions and those players still have reunions, they still come back and they’re the same players that they were.

"I loved seeing that, because a lot of the people who get promotion these days; once they’ve left you’ll never see them again. That’s part of the team spirit I try to build, because it does go a long way in the Championship."

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