Speaking to the Back of the Net podcast, former Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis spoke out on his time at the club.

Pulis guided Middlesbrough to fifth and seventh in his first and second seasons in charge of the club, having taken over from Garry Monk in December 2017.

Following their relegation from the Premier League the season before, Chairman Steve Gibson talked of ‘smashing the Championship’ and wanting to bounce back to the top tier at the first time of asking. With this in mind the club purchased a lot of big money signings including the likes of Britt Assombalonga, Ashley Fletcher, Darren Randolph and Martin Braithwaite.

Michael Steele/Getty Images Sport

It didn’t necessarily go to plan however, with Monk, who had been in charge when those transfers were completed, was sacked in December for Pulis to take over.

Despite leading them to fifth position, they ultimately fell at the first hurdle, losing 1-0 over two legs to Aston Villa in the play-off semi-finals. This meant Middlesbrough would remain a Championship team, but were catering for a lot of high earners, something which Pulis had to address in his first full season at the helm.

“I went to a football club that had spent nearly £55million on players and had a wage bill as big as most lower-tier Premier League sides,” he said.

“Steve had given it a bit of a go with the manager and it hadn’t worked.

“When I took over I just couldn’t believe the financial situation the club was in.”

Stu Forster/Getty Images Sport

Pulls went on to say that if the club had been in better shape financially he could have guided them to an automatic promotion place. But given the amount of spending the club had done the previous season, Middlesbrough were forced to sell some of their prized assets.

“If we’d have kept [Patrick] Bamford, [Adama] Traore and [Ben] Gibson, I think we’d have finished in the top two but you don’t do it and get criticised.”

Both Garry Monk and Tony Pulis are out of work at the moment having both left Sheffield Wednesday at different stages last year.