EX-MIDDLESBROUGH midfielder Ray Parlour believes Boro are "perfectly placed" for a repeat of last season and a charge into the Championship's top six.

Parlour says head coach Michael Carrick deserves enormous credit for the way he guided Boro through their difficult start to the campaign and got his side back on track in the aftermath of last season's play-off heartbreak and losing key players in the summer.

And while he thinks automatic promotion might well be out of reach this season, he believes Boro will once again secure a top six finish and have a tilt at going up through the play-offs.

“Huge credit to Michael Carrick for what he is doing at Middlesbrough,” said Parlour, who played more than 50 times for Boro.

“The win over Leicester was massive and wasn’t a surprise to me at all – their results over the past few months have been brilliant and now Boro are in the perfect position to make a charge for a place in the top six.

“Losing Chuba Akpom was massive for Boro and the hangover from the play-off defeat last year obviously hit them hard, but Michael Carrick now has the team playing really well and they have shown they can beat Leicester City, so anything is possible.

"I expect Boro to keep up the good form and definitely get into the play-offs this season. Steve Gibson is a good owner and will give Michael the tools to once again get in the top six, and then let’s see how they can get on."

Boro signed off for the international break in style with that excellent win over Leicester, secured thanks to Sam Greenwood's brilliance. Parlour believes Boro have themselves a gem.

“That winning goal against Leicester was outstanding – Sam Greenwood is a massive talent and if he keeps taking free-kicks like that, then Boro have a superb weapon when it comes to set-pieces," he told NetBet Casino.

"He is a key player for Boro and I’ll be keeping a close eye on his development – consistency is important for young players and I’m sure he will continue to play at a high level.”


Despite Leicester's defeat at Boro - their second successive loss - Parlour backs the Foxes to go on and win the title and thinks it's too much of a big ask for Carrick's side to get the second automatic promotion spot.

He says: “For me, unless anything goes drastically wrong, I believe Leicester City will get promoted back to the Premier League.

"They have a nice gap to third place, so it’s theirs to lose now. They also have a deep squad which is a big bonus in a league as competitive as the Championship.

“For the other promoted place, I think it’s between Leeds United and Ipswich Town. Ipswich have been brilliant so far this season, particularly going forward, so let’s see if they can keep it up and finally force their way back into the Premier League. Leeds had a slow start to their season, just like Middlesbrough, but they’ve got experience with earning promotion and will certainly look to chase down the other two.

“There are still a lot of games, but I personally can’t see Boro getting automatic promotion. Top six would be a good season for them again – Michael Carrick is definitely the right man at the club and I’m sure if he sticks at it he can get them promoted back to the Premier League.”