By Thomas Robinson
THE Championship season has returned once more and if Saturday's victory over Birmingham is any indication, Middlesbrough mean business.
Saturday's performance as well as their display against Oldham in the Capital One Cup was a great indication as to how the squad is shaping up as Aitor Karanka looks to take his team from strength to strength.
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He's signed the majority of players he had in mind including new talisman Kike, who hit goals both from our games so far.
Karanka has gone out of his way to try to secure the goalscorer he believes will finally give the Teessiders the marksman they’ve been looking for - and he may have just done it.
Kike showed during the match he had the pace to get in the right gaps to get the chances and was a dangerous threat to the Birmingham defence that had a difficult time handling him.
Karanka has had a game plan for some time and with how much he has spent on the Spaniard and how he played Saturday, Kike’s a focal point in that plan.
His first couple of goals will undoubtedly have given the striker an early boost in confidence and the hope is he will continue to thrive in the Championship.
It's not just the attack that's been a force to be reckoned with though. Two consecutive clean sheets make for good reading especially when you include the experienced right-back Damia Abella, who is close to completing a move to the Riverside.
Abella could be the perfect man to tweak the formidable back four for Boro and he has the credentials to be a key man at the back.
The arrival of Adam Clayton earlier today represents another piece in Karanka’s jigsaw having been after the Huddersfield midfielder for some time.
It is early days and being so early into the campaign it would be dangerous to predict what will happen come May, but all the signs are good particularly after two impressive displays.
There are still 45 games to play in the Championship, but Karanka appears to have build a squad that looks capable of competing at the top end of the Championship.