Can Tony Pulis finally make Boro look like promotion hopefuls again?

Tony Pulis manager of Middlesbrough during The Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Middlesbrough and Sunderland at the Riverside Stadium on January 6, 2018 in Middlesbrough, England.

If Middlesbrough beat Norwich City they could move into the play-offs and Tony Pulis can finally turn them into promotion hopefuls once more.

Adama Traore of Middlesbrough celebrates scoring his side's third goal with teammates during the Sky Bet Championship match between Queens Park Rangers and Middlesbrough at Loftus Road on...

Before the start of the 2017/18 Championship season many bookmakers and pundits alike were tipping Middlesbrough to win the title and return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

This was perhaps unsurprising, having just appointed the highly regarded Garry Monk as boss on the back of him taking Leeds United to the brink of the playoffs the previous year and then spending big sums on the likes of Britt Assombalonga, Martin Braithwaite and Ashley Fletcher.

Garry Monk, manager of Middlesbrough looks on prior to the Sky Bet Championship match between Millwall and Middlesbrough at The Den on December 16, 2017 in London, England.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, though, and just six months later Monk was sacked on December 23 with Boro ninth in the table and 19 points off leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers.

On January 5 Tony Pulis, dismissed himself by West Bromwich Albion the previous month, was brought in to succeed the 38-year-old in his first job in the second tier of English football since guiding Stoke City to promotion in 2008.

Results under Pulis have been steady, if unremarkable, with the 0-0 draw against Sheffield Wednesday meaning it is two wins, two defeats and one draw in the league since the Welshman took charge.

Britt Assombalonga of Middlesbrough beats Gaetano Berardi of Leeds United during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Middlesbrough at Elland Road on November 19, 2017...

Yet if Boro were to beat Norwich City this weekend and Fulham were to lose to Nottingham Forest then the Teessiders could move into the top six and the playoffs.

After a disappointing first half to the campaign when so much was expected from the side from the North East, this would signify a big step forwards and could perhaps be the platform to go on and achieve the promotion that many believed would happen when making predictions back in August. 

Tony Pulis manager of Middlesbrough during The Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Middlesbrough and Sunderland at the Riverside Stadium on January 6, 2018 in Middlesbrough, England.

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