It is almost 11 months to the day since Michael Carrick replaced Chris Wilder at Middlesbrough.

And there is a certain irony in the fact that, nearly a year on, Boro find themselves in a worse position now than when the former Manchester United midfielder took over in the first place.

With one win and four defeats from their first four games, this is now officially Middlesbrough’s worst-ever start to a league season. But the good news, as far as Carrick is concerned, is that mitigating factors are hardly in short supply.

“I think they are much better than their position in the table. If they just don’t panic and keep doing what they are doing, they will improve,” EFL expert George Elek tells the Not the Top 20 podcast; Middlesbrough’s underlying numbers suggesting that better days are around the corner.

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Elek also believes that recruitment has played a part in this historically-poor start. Championship Golden Boot winner Chuba Akpom and assist-machine Ryan Giles among those yet to be replaced.

“There has been a big drop-off in terms of the players at his disposal,” Elek argues.

Middlesbrough’s worst-ever start to a season

It is only a few months since West Ham, per The Times, were considering bringing Carrick back to the club where he made his name on the pitch; the 42-year-old lined up as a successor for David Moyes after transforming Middlesbrough from relegation candidates into promotion challengers within the blink of an eye last term.

Hammers legend Tony Cottee even suggested Carrick was the stand-out replacement for the veteran Scot.

As long as things continue as they are, the only way Carrick will be leaving the Riverside is with a P45 in his hand, though nobody should be writing off one of England’s brightest coaching minds just yet. The 2008 Champions League winner has already proven himself capable of turning around a sinking ship at Middlesbrough, plenty of goodwill still in the bank after last season’s heroics.

That goodwill is not in unlimited supply, however. Carrick remains a managerial novice but he will have to utilise every since ounce of the experience he has picked up since taking Wilder’s place if a repeat of last year’s rapid-fire turnaround is to occur.

West Ham considered Carrick as David Moyes replacement

“They are quite a way off the team they were last season, basically in every single facet. I think the players are worse. I don’t think the performances are as good,” Elek adds.

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“Michael Carrick hasn’t yet been a football manager for a year. He is entitled to learn on the job. Whether Boro want to be the beneficiaries of that learning… I don’t think this squad of Boro players necessitates a play-off push, personally. I think it would be incredibly harsh to judge Carrick on last season’s performance and use that as a barometer.

“But there hasn’t been much evidence so far to suggest Michael Carrick can set up a team to defend well and win games, and that at the moment is costing them a lot of points.”

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