Middlesbrough look to be progressing steadily under the guidance of Chris Wilder and the Boro boss will have his first full season in charge from when the season recommences in August.
Middlesbrough finished just one place outside of the division’s top six on the last day of the season and will look to go one better next time around.
Their ultimate goal will be promotion with a view to playing in the Premier League for the first time since the 2016/17 campaign.
The last time they achieved this feat was during Aitor Karanka’s time as manager, with winger Stewart Downing a huge part of their success that season.
Downing started his career with Boro and graduated from their academy during their time in the top flight, making his debut in 2002 as a 17-year-old.
He departed when the Teessiders were relegated in 2009, making the switch to Aston Villa. He moved to Liverpool two years later before a move to West Ham United not long after.
But a return to his hometown club in 2015 saw him help them to a second-placed finish in his first season back. He spent four years at the Riverside in his second spell, before playing two seasons at Blackburn Rovers before his retirement last year.
Asked about his plans for the future in an interview with The Coaches’ Voice, Downing revealed he would love to manage Boro at some point.
“I’ve been a ball boy at Middlesbrough, played in the youth team, played for the first team, and captained the first team. The only thing that’s left for me to do is manage my boyhood club,” he said.
“If that’s going to happen at some point, I don’t know, but it’s the main ambition for this next stage of my career. I’ll keep working hard to try and make sure I get that opportunity.”
Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson has given plenty of chances to first time managers.
The likes of Bryan Robson in 1994, Steve McClaren in 2001, Gareth Southgate in 2006, Aitor Karanka in 2013, and Jonathan Woodgate in 2019 all managed for the first time in their careers at Middlesbrough.
Therefore, the dream of a route to being first-team manager at Middlesbrough could well become a reality for Downing.