IT was Plato that first determined that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. Goodness knows what the Greek philosopher would have made of recent events at Middlesbrough – although as a proud patriot, he would no doubt have been disappointed at Dimi Konstantopoulos’ lack of game time – but one of his most famous musings provides a neat summation of the current situation at the Riverside.

Things have to change in the wake of Tony Pulis’ departure, not least because the lack of any more parachute payments necessitates a break with the methods of the past. But by changing tack, perhaps Steve Gibson will come up with a new approach that extricates his club from the rut it has been inhabiting in the last few years. At this juncture, a change of direction could be just what is required.

When Boro were relegated from the Premier League two summers ago, Gibson’s immediate reaction was to throw money at the problem in an attempt to solve it. With a first tranche of Premier League parachute money worth £41.6m burning a hole in his pocket, Boro’s chairman went on a spending spree in an attempt to “smash the league”.

It was the sensible thing to do – one of the structural weaknesses of English football’s current financial system is that a club that has just been relegated from the Premier League is encouraged to spend wildly in an attempt to secure an immediate promotion by being furnished with a massive pile of cash – but it did not work.

Boro’s Premier League legacy was squandered on the likes of Martin Braithwaite, Ashley Fletcher and Britt Assombalonga, and when it became clear that things were not going to plan under Garry Monk, Pulis was appointed in an attempt to scramble to promotion. That did not work either, hence the position the club finds itself in today.

What is that position? Well, thanks to Gibson’s stewardship, it is certainly not the kind of financial meltdown that countless other clubs have encountered when the parachute money runs out. Boro’s most recent accounts, covering the period to the end of June 2018, showed an annual pre-tax loss of £6.4m, a significant sum, but hardly a disaster.

However, a parachute payment was factored into those figures, and the reality is that as things currently stand, the books are some way off balancing. While Boro’s wage bill is likely to have come down slightly from the last published accounting period, it will still have been somewhere close to the £30m mark.

Next season, Boro’s total income will revert to the basic revenue figures outlined in the most recent accounts - gate receipts of £7.1m, sponsorship and commercial earnings of £5.6m, merchandising income of £2.6m and income from cup matches of £286,000. In total, that amounts to £15.3m. Some of those figures could increase, and there is an additional revenue stream of around £7m from the Football League’s television deal with Sky. That still only adds up to around £22m though.

As Gibson conceded last week, “we’ve got to run ourselves differently”. That could mean indulging in some of the ‘creative accounting’ that Gibson and a number of other club owners have alleged is becoming rife in the Championship, but the Boro chairman has categorically ruled out breaking either the Financial Fair Play rules or the ethical beliefs that underpin them. Boro will not be selling the Riverside Stadium to Gibson, only to then start leasing it back.

Instead, they will tweak the way they operate, moving away from big-money signings that pile a huge amount of debt and future wage commitments onto the balance sheet, and instead pursuing different priorities.

The transfer policy will be more nuanced, with more creative options explored. Younger, hungrier and cheaper players, perhaps from the lower leagues or abroad, supplemented by top-end loans, similar to the ones that have made such a difference to Derby County this season. There will be an increased focus on the academy, once such a crucial production line, but in recent years, more of a sideshow that managers have been reluctant to fully utilise.

And, perhaps most importantly of all, there appears to be a desire to move towards a more ‘continental-type’ backroom operation, with a head coach rather than a manager and a director-of-football-type figure overseeing recruitment decisions. That would be a significant move as it would plug a hole that has caused Boro problems in the past.

From Aitor Karanka to Monk and on to Pulis, Middlesbrough’s managers have had a huge say over signing players. Some might regard that as a strength, but it has led to a situation where the current squad is a mish-mash of players that have been signed to suit different agendas over the course of three managerial reigns. Karanka’s players didn’t really suit Monk, and Monk’s certainly didn’t suit Pulis.

The lack of joined-up thinking has proved a major handicap, and if the current revamp leads to a situation where a change of manager or head coach does not automatically result in a wholesale overhaul of both the squad and coaching set-up, that should be a good thing.

Of course, the choice of next boss will still be crucial. Slavisa Jokanovic is an appealing option given his record of winning promotion with Watford and Fulham, and should be willing to work within an overhauled structure. Michael Reiziger and Jonathan Woodgate are both ambitious young coaches with a desire to prove themselves, boasting links to Middlesbrough. Danny Cowley has established a glowing reputation with Lincoln City, and would certainly represent a new way of thinking.

As Norwich City have proved this season, doing things differently is not an admission of defeat. Norwich sold more than £30m worth of players last summer, but thanks to a combination of astute recruitment, inspired leadership under Daniel Farke and an unashamed focus on youth, they romped to the Championship title.

It can be done, but everything has to fall into place. Appointing Pulis’ successor is Boro’s first step on their new journey, but the change is set to be much more significant than that. Necessity is forcing their hand – let’s see what they are able to invent as a consequence.