Mystery factor as Don Goodman rates Middlesbrough's chances of promotion to the Premier League

Don Goodman believes Middlesbrough are a mystery heading into the new Championship, tipping them as one of the sides who could surprise people by taking advantage of a weaker division to win promotion to the Premier League.

Michael Carrick has made clear his ambitions to challenge for promotion next term after Boro ended a tough campaign last time around in strong form. It resulted in an eight-placed finish despite the many challenges and offers much hope heading into the new campaign.

While Boro will be once again trying to bridge the gap that the Premier League parachute payments create in offering select clubs much bigger resources, there is a growing feeling on Teesside that something special is building ahead of the season opener against Swansea City.

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Asked his feelings on Boro's promotion chances, EFL pundit Goodman told Teesside Live via OLBG: "Consistency is key for Middlesbrough. Look at the way they finished last season, winning seven, drawing four and losing one, which was that incredible home game against Leeds. 25 points from 12 games is promotion-winning form. To highlight inconsistency though, in the 12 games before that they only won four, drawing six and losing two.

"With every passing season, Michael Carrick's experience becomes more valuable. He's made mistakes and will continue to do so but he'll also have learned from those mistakes. He knows this league now, having only played and coached at the top before joining Boro, and the Championship will no longer be a culture shock to him, he'll know what it takes to win promotion.

"There hasn't been an awful lot of transfer business done at the moment. But the one factor which jumps off the page is how well Emmanuel Latte Lath finished the season, scoring 11 goals in his final 12 games. He's clearly found confidence, form and his place within the team.

"He looked like a completely different player from the one that was missing chances at the start of the season. But at least he was still getting into the positions previously. If Boro can start well and create chances for him to score at such a rate, then you would say it will be a more positive season.

"But they are one of those mystery teams when you wonder what type of performance are we going to see and you just never know what they'll produce."

Bookies currently rate Boro as joint-third favourites to win promotion, level with Luton Town as they come down from the Premier League, with Leeds United and Burnley the current favourites. Like many, Goodman believes we're looking at a Championship that is less stronger and less predictable than last term, and that could open the door for a side like Boro.

"Last season was one of the easiest Championship seasons to predict in terms of who would be at the top as Leeds, Leicester and Southampton all retained a plethora of Premier League-quality players," he said. "They were always going to be competing at the top end of the league.

"However this season I'm not so confident in the relegated clubs. For Burnley and Luton, it depends on what their squad looks like when the transfer window shuts. Will Burnley keep the likes of Lyle Foster, Luca Koleosho and Sander Berge? If they do, you fancy them to be a force. Will Luton keep the likes of Alfie Doughty, Elijah Adebayo and Carlton Morris? If they do, you'd also tip them to be competing at the top.

"But Sheffield United look like a club in disarray and are coming down from the Premier in a very weak state. A massive overhaul is required for Chris Wilder and his backroom staff. I'm not saying they can't do it, but he's up against it at the moment.

"You'd expect Leeds to be towards the top, with the sale of Archie Gray possibly meaning they'll be able to keep hold of the attacking force that tore apart Championship defences for 80% of the season before falling at the last hurdle.

"Then with some teams like Middlesbrough who you don't really know what to expect from them. The upcoming Championship season will not be as strong as last season's, which had the best top-four that I've ever seen. That's going to give an opportunity for some teams to surprise us."