Michael Carrick's first-season Middlesbrough record and Delano Burgzorg's role to help Latte Lath

New signing Delano Burgzorg on day one of pre-season at Middlesbrough
-Credit: (Image: Middlesbrough FC)

Are Middlesbrough building up towards another goal blitz? What is certain is, if new boy Delano Burgzorg cuts the mustard in the Championship this season then Boro will have a strike force to be feared.

Big things are already expected on Teesside from Emmanuel Latte Lath, who finished the previous campaign like a train. The prospect of having another regular goalscorer alongside him is mouth-watering. If it is goals you want, then the Boro could be the place to be.

This is exactly what Michael Carrick is looking for. His policy has been obvious from the first day he walked in the door at the Riverside. He wants his team to play on the front foot, pressurize the opposition and put the ball in the onion bag.

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Two years ago, In Carrick’s first season here, the exceptional duo Chuba Akpom and Cameron Archer scored 40 goals between them. This was the highest tally of goals netted by the club’s two front men for a long, long time. In fact, it beat the 39 goals which Paul Wilkinson and Bernie Slaven scored as a combined unit in Lennie Lawrence’s promotion season of 1991-92.

Naturally, Carrick lost both Akpom and Archer through circumstances beyond his control last summer, which meant he had to start again from scratch as far as his attack was concerned. There were periods last season when Carrick had no fit strikers at all to select from, which meant that a series of midfield men shared the duties of leading the attack.

This didn’t work out too well. Not surprisingly it led to a mid-season hiccup which produced a negative run of results and effectively cost Boro the chance to claw their way into play-off contention.

Finally, Latte Lath returned from injury. Not only did he step up considerably on his early season form but he began to score goals for fun. His remarkable contribution in the run-in, when he scored 11 goals in 12 games, sparked Boro’s stunning finale to the season. It also created the belief that he will be a major force in the Championship this time around.

Latte Lath’s 18 goals, combined with nine from wide-man Isaiah Jones, meant that Boro’s top two scorers shared 27 between them. At the end of the day, this was pretty impressive. It was joint third in the list of goals that the club’s top two scorers have compiled between them since Boro entered the Championship.

Naturally, Akpom and Archer top the list, while the only two players to outscore Latte Lath and Jones were Patrick Bamford and Grant Leadbitter in 2014-15. Bamford netted 19 and skipper Leadbitter 13 for a combined total of 32, which was pretty good but in some respects out of sync with the achievements of most of Aitor Karanka’s strike forces.

When Boro were promoted the following season, Cristhian Stuani top-scored with 11 goals in all competitions, including four in the League Cup, and David Nugent scored eight times. The main thing about Bamford in his first season on Teesside was that he was an absolute revelation and far exceeded most people’s expectations.

Bamford arrived on loan from Chelsea with only a small amount of Championship experience from a previous loan spell with Derby County. He was a mere strip of a lad at 21 years of age at the time. However he had no problems adapting, slotted perfectly into the Boro’s line-up, and went on to win the Championship Player of the Year trophy.

Bamford was hungry to score goals and was constantly set off to run through the channels whenever any of his team-mates were on the ball. The Boro players quickly picked up on the fact that Bamford was making these runs and started to put the ball in the right places. His finishing power was top-notch.

It was something of a slight disappointment that Bamford never reached the same heights when he later returned to the club though he didn’t have the same players around him. Sometimes that can make a big difference. Just look at the way in which Akpom has struggled at times at Ajax.

Bamford remains as the Boro’s deadliest Championship goalscorer in one season apart from Akpom, who attracted the attention of Ajax in the first place because he was a complete revelation under Carrick’s tutelage. The fact that Carrick got so much more out of Akpom is quite typical of the effect that good managers can have on some players.

Marvin Emnes had struggled to make an impact on Teesside after being signed by Gareth Southgate from Sparta Rotterdam for £3.2m. Then the Dutchman was more or less rejected by Gordon Strachan, who rather quickly sent him out on loan to Swansea. Tony Mowbray replaced Strachan in the hot seat while Emnes was still at Swansea and had one hell of a job to convince the striker that he had a future on Teesside.

The Swansea fans had taken to Emnes from the start, especially after he scored the only goal in one of the typical hotly contested Welsh derbies against Cardiff. It was clear that Swansea wanted to extend his loan with a view of eventually making the move permanent. As a result, Emnes’s head was turned and he had good reason the future was a lot brighter with the Swans.

Fortunately, following a few heart-to-heart chats, Mowbray convinced Emnes that he would be part of his plans for the Boro. Mogga was true to his word and Emnes went on to top score with 18 goals in 2011-12. With Scott McDonald netting nine goals in the same campaign, the duo managed 27 goals between them – which is an identical tally to that of Latte Lath and Jones.

The odds are in Boro’s favour this season that Latte Lath and Burgzorg will go close to overtaking Bamford and Leadbitter’s 32 goals, provided that Burgzorg fits the bill. So far Burgzorg does not have the greatest of scoring records, while on social media he has received mixed reviews from Huddersfield fans.

Some of the Terriers fans thought that he was distinctly average, while others are glowing about his attributes. Fortunately, if there is one man who will get the very best out of him, then it is Carrick. Even so, the Boro boss probably plans to go into the season with an open mind as far as his players are concerned in all departments.

It’s not just about Latte Lath and Burgzorg because Josh Coburn and Finn Azaz also come into the reckoning in a big way. Coburn was hoping to establish himself last season but was very unfortunate through injuries. He will be keen to hit the ground running and make up for lost time.

Azaz, who scored well on loan at Plymouth last season but took time to find some consistency with Boro, has the No.10 shirt at his mercy provided he grabs the nettle. So, while we are all delighted to see Burgzorg join the squad, the immediate target for the new signing will be in forcing his way into the side.

Fortunately, Burgzorg has valuable Championship experience under his belt from his time with Huddersfield, when he scored seven goals in 33 appearances. He should not need the extensive settling-in period which Latte Lath required at the start of last season.

Naturally, it doesn’t matter to Boro fans who occupies the main attacking roles as long as the team is scoring plenty of goals. In any case, Carrick will expect them to come from all areas. We just have to hope that the Fitness God is smiling on the team this season because the prospects are excellent.