With Latte Lath as the frontman, Middlesbrough have built solid foundations for next season

Middlesbrough's Emmanuel Latte Lath celebrates scoring
Middlesbrough's Emmanuel Latte Lath celebrates scoring -Credit:PA

Emmanuel Latte Lath’s 18th goal of the season and Middlesbrough ’s strong run at the finale indicate that solid foundations for 2024-25 have already been laid.

While Latte Lath has suddenly metamorphosed into the goalscoring striker that we have all been crying out for, the overall picture as whole looks so much brighter thanks to the lads’ effort in the run-in. Boro didn’t quite make the play-offs but the attitude of the team when they arguably had little to play for, could hardly have been better.

We wondered why Boro concentrated so heavily on youth when they restocked the squad last summer but now it is beginning to make sense. In fact, a blend is beginning to develop throughout the whole squad which augurs well for the future.

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We’ve seen how Championships teams have been promoted and then struggled badly in the top flight. Maybe if you’ve got a really solid base and a great set of lads who work for each other on and off the field, then you’ve got a chance of survival.

It’s taken a long time for the picture to become clearer, but the run of 11 games without defeat in the last 12 could hardly have sewn better seeds for the new campaign. And let’s not forget it would have been 12 out of 12 had not Leeds’ blatantly offside goal been disallowed.

Despite the huge contribution of the young players, Michael Carrick’s squad is crammed full of experience when everybody is fully fit. In this respect, it’s great to know that Jonny Howson has signed on for another stint. The encroaching years do not appear to make any difference to the skipper, who once again has led by example this term.

We can expect another humdinger of a campaign from Howson next season. The other player who you would definitely hang your hat on is Matt Clarke, whose form over the past couple of months has been phenomenal. He was a little unfortunate when necessity meant that he needed to be pitched fully back into the fray soon after returning from injury but Clarke has set an example to everybody at the club.

Certainly, Carrick should have plenty of options regarding the experienced side of things when looking to get the balance right. Luke Ayling has indicated that he hopes to join the fray on a permanent basis. So it will be hoped that Boro can complete this one quickly before other clubs come sniffing around.

There is a wealth of experience to follow when the injured players re-join the squad. Having experienced men such as Tommy Smith, Dael Fry and Darragh Lenihan battling for defensive places will create great competition and vastly increase Carrick’s options.

Then of course we will have Hayden Hackney back alongside Howson, provided the home-grown midfielder is not the subject of a massive transfer offer. Then there’s Marcus Forss and Riley McGree to add to the melting pot. That’s in addition to the younger players who have progressed so quickly this season, notably the likes of Rav van den Berg.

Young players will no doubt continue to get their chances alongside the older heads. Carrick is not afraid to pitch in Academy lads when the opportunity arises, with Law McCabe virtually booking his place in next season’s first-team squad.

We keep saying that Boro need to make some good summer signings and that continues to ring true. You achieve nothing if you try to stand still. But the pressure has eased, save possibly for the extra goalscorer which we would love to see added to the squad.

This will feel a long, long summer for the lads. Even while they are enjoying a much-needed rest on hot beaches, they will probably be wishing the new season could start almost immediately.