Championship debrief as Middlesbrough rivals continue manager search as West Brom make aims clear

Carlos Corberan applauds the West Brom fans after their play-off defeat to Southampton
-Credit: (Image: PA)

The Championship season officially comes to an end this weekend as Leeds United and Southampton clash at Wembley in the play-off final.

For Middlesbrough, the game will determine who their final rival in next season's Championship will be, with the losing side condemned to another year in the second tier as the victor celebrates promotion to the Premier League in what is often called the richest game in football for a reason.

Two big clubs always expected to challenge for promotion with the resources that parachute payments afford you, they look evenly matched. But former Boro player Mark Viduka, who also played for Leeds of course, is hoping the Whites can prevail and make it back to the top flight.

READ MORE: Former striker a free agent this summer after poor three years since leaving Middlesbrough

Viduka told I think the win against Norwich was one of Leeds' best performances in a long time. Four goals against Norwich, who are not a bad side, will hopefully give them a confidence boost. In a one-off game, anything can happen. One of the biggest rules in football is, if you don't take your chances, the opponent will go down the other end and score.

"I really don't want to jinx it and I pray to god Leeds win promotion, but I'm happy they've got a 4-0 win behind them and they're going into the game with more confidence. I hope they win promotion this year because Leeds deserve it across the course of the season."

West Brom make their ambitions clear

To get to Wembley, Southampton beat West Brom over two legs. In the midst of off-field uncertainty that was settled in February via a takeover, Carlos Corberan's side did well to finish in the top six and are now hoping to build on that next season. They will be expected to be a big threat to Boro's own top six ambitions next term.

New owner Shilen Patel made his ambitions clear when replying to club captain Jed Wallace on X this week. The Baggies Skipper had wrote on the social media site that Albion will work to 'try to go one better' next season.

But Patel responded saying: "*Two better. This year you exemplified what it takes for a team to exceed expectation. Selflessness, resilience, adaptability, and maximum effort. A captain who personifies those traits makes all the difference."

Rivals continue manager search

While Boro backroom staff continue preparations for the new season content that they have done plenty of planning with a team who should be largely sticking together next season, many rivals are set for big changes this summer - none more so where new managers are needed.

Norwich City, Hull City and Sunderland are still searching for new bosses ahead of the start of pre-season and recently-relegated Burnley could soon be needing a new manager too, with Vincent Kompany on the verge of joining Bayern Munich. In a change from initial reports, however, it is now suggested that assistant Craig Bellamy will not be joining in him in Germany and could be handed the reins at Turf Moor himself.

At Norwich, meanwhile, they have been interviewing candidates this week and hope to make an appointment next week. The three main names in the mix appear to be former AZ Alkmaar manager Pascal Jansen, ex-Reims boss Will Still and current Nordsjaelland head coach Johannes Thorup. The Canaries will need to appeal for a work permit should they opt to appoint the latter.

Over to Hull and they are still yet to appoint their replacement for Liam Rosenior despite seemingly settling on German head coach Tim Walter over a week ago. Our sister site Hull Live claim a verbal agreement is in place but no contracts have been signed yet. Both parties are said to be confident all will be completed eventually, however.

One Championship club who are set to appoint a new boss is Plymouth Argyle. Not expected to be rivals to Boro for promotion next term, but Michael Carrick's former Manchester United team-mate Wayne Rooney is set for a quick return to management after his disappointing spell at Birmingham City by taking over at Home Park.

Things are less clear at Sunderland, however as their search for a new boss drags on, despite knowing they would need a new boss this summer since sacking Michael Beale in February. Danny Rohl was believed to be a man they favoured but he now looks set to sign a new contract and stay at Sheffield Wednesday. Sunderland reporters, meanwhile, say the silence from the club is deafening, as supporters grow discontent with the lack of development or communication.

Oxford United taking inspiration from Ipswich

Finally this week, Boro will have a new ground to visit next season in Oxford United's Kassam Stadium - only opened after Boro's last visit to Oxford in 1997. They secured their Championship status last weekend by beating Bolton Wanderers in the League One play-off final.

They're now hoping to take inspiration from double-promotion winners Ipswich Town, with Cameron Brannagan saying: "Look at Ipswich, they’re a big inspiration in my eyes. The way they handled the promotion and went into the Championship, and they’re now a Premiership team. If that’s not an inspiration to believe in yourself, and that you can go and do great things. I can’t wait.”

Winger Josh Murphy scored a brace for the U's in the play-off final to seal their promotion. His future is uncertain, with West Brom, Portsmouth and Derby County all credited with interest.

Murphy told the Oxford Mail: “I want to play as high as I can. I think I owe it to myself, to my family, and to the club. We’re in the Championship now, so let’s see what happens. I just want to take my mind off everything. It’s been a long season, a tough season, and I just want to enjoy myself.

“I’d love to be in these colours next year. I’m happy and settled at this club, I’m still enjoying it. I’m buzzing for the gaffer [Des Buckingham], it’s been an up and down time since he’s been here. But I think he’s a brilliant coach and a brilliant manager, he got what he deserves. I’m happy for him and the boys and I’ve got every faith we can do well in the Championship next season."