John Obi Mikel looks back at how Middlesbrough fell short of an automatic Premier League promotion or a Championship playoff spot.
The Nigeria midfielder joined the Teesside outfit in January as a free agent, with Tony Pulis’ side six points off the summit of the log.
And after a bright start on his return to England, a run of six consecutive defeats denied Middlesbrough one of the four playoff spots.
Following their seventh-place finish this term, the Super Eagles skipper is upbeat that Boro can mount a challenge for promotion to the English top-flight next season.
“What I expected was to be in the playoffs or automatic promotion,” Mikel told Northern Echo .
“I think we went through a bad spell when we lost six games in a row.
“A team like us with big players, a big dressing room, a big club, shouldn’t have gone through that period.
“A lot went on, key injuries, red cards, a lot of chances we didn’t take. You can point at a lot of things. This club should be at the top and I’m sure they will get there.
“I’m sure they will do exactly what they need to do (to come back stronger). The manager is a good manager, an experienced manager, I’m sure he will look at the team and know what he wants and then they will go from there.
“The feeling is we’ll come back stronger next year. The players are hungry, they want to carry on, they want to be in the Premier League. It’s good to see that. Hopefully next season they will do that.”
Despite being disappointed by the team's failure to qualify for the playoff, the former Chelsea player spoke about his positive experiences at the Riverside Stadium.
“It just wasn’t to be but the club, the players and the staff were exactly what I expected: good staff, good players, good human beings. I’ve had a lovely time here, it’s been amazing," he said.
“I enjoyed the physicality, the fans right in front of you – the real English football. I missed that in China. Tony has given me the opportunity and I’ve enjoyed it.
“This (England) is where I want to be, I want to be closer to home, I want to be near my family, so we’ll see what happens. I have a few options here and there. You never know in football.”
Mikel played 19 games in all competitions, scoring once. The 32-year-old is likely to move from Middlesbrough after only four months, having agreed a short term deal in January.
On the international scene, it is yet to be seen if the midfielder would represent Nigeria at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Super Eagles are in Group B along with Burundi, Guinea and Madagascar.