Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson admits the club's fight for Barclays Premier League survival has come as a complete shock.
Gibson believed a corner had been turned when the Teessiders secured their top-flight status at the end of last season and set about building for the future.
He told the Evening Gazette: "Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I would think that with the way we finished last season, everybody would have thought we were heading in the right direction."
With record signing Afonso Alves starting his first full season following his Â£12.7million arrival from Heerenveen, and Justin Hoyte, Didier Digard and Marvin Emnes on board as the club invested in promising young talent, the aim for the new campaign was to push for a top-10 finish.
However, the reality has been very different and Boro find themselves entrenched in a battle against the drop which currently sees them four points adrift of safety with just eight games left to play.
"We made changes to the squad during the summer and made one or two very good signings, and we were confident that we could move forward," Gibson added.
"I for one did not think we would be in a relegation fight. But that is the reality of the situation."
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