Following Middlesbrough’s conclusion to their league-wide winless streak, Michael Carrick admits as much.

Following Middlesbrough’s conclusion to their league-wide winless streak, Michael Carrick admits as much.

Coming into Saturday afternoon’s game against Southampton, the former Manchester United midfielder was under real pressure following Boro’s poor start to the campaign.

They had won none of their opening seven league fixtures and had claimed just two points from a possible 21 in their opening seven league matches.

Although a hangover was to be expected following their heartbreak in the play-offs, the fact they have made such a poor start to the season has come as a surprise to many, with Boro previously tipped to be one of the favourites to secure promotion back to the Premier League.
Following their midweek draw against fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday, it wouldn’t have been a huge shock to see Carrick sacked considering Boro sacked Chris Wilder early on last season.

But the ex-United midfielder was given more time to shine and that’s a decision that could pay dividends for them later in the season.
Boro would have been hoping to exploit the Saints’ defensive fragility during the early stages of the game, but it was the visitors that took the lead at the Riverside with Che Adams supplying a superb ball to Adam Armstrong who fired past Seny Dieng.

Thankfully for Boro, they managed to get themselves back in the game at half-time with Riley McGree able to capitalise after an unforced error from the Saints, one of many from Russell Martin’s side.

The hosts managed to grab a second in the 66th minute, with Taylor Harwood-Bellis pulling down Marcus Forss in the box, allowing Jonny Howson to send Gavin Bazunu the wrong way.
Boro blew a couple of chances to extend their lead after that and they will be thankful that the Saints were unable to equalise, because they would have been ruining the fact they missed those opportunities if Martin’s side had equalised.
Although he will have surely been relieved for himself after the game, Carrick had his mind on others after the game.

He said: “I always knew it was going to come at some point (a win).

“Relief? For me, it was more about just seeing the players and backroom staff get the rewards they deserved for all the effort they’ve put in and sticking together. It was rewarding for me to see that.”
Looking back, this was probably a crucial game for Carrick and this is why he should be relieved.

They don’t have another league fixture until Saturday now and with this, Boro may have wanted to use that period to find a new manager if they had lost and decided to sack Carrick.

Bradford City may be coming up as their next opponents in the Carabao Cup tomorrow, but the Teesside outfit may have been comfortable having a caretaker in charge of that game because the league has to be the priority.

That was the case anyway – but the fact they haven’t got many points on the board makes the Carabao Cup even less important compared to their results in the Championship.
Now they have a league win under their belt, you feel this could be a vital moment for Carrick as his side looks to build on that.

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