McLaren you could actually argue underperformed, certainly in terms of the league though not really the cups.. For a couple of years we had arguably the 5th best team yet even when we came 7th we finished behind Bolton and Everton despite having far superior players.
I don't agree that we ever had the 5th best team. We had a side that could beat anyone on their day, but we always blew hot and cold. Mclaren was a goid enough coach (and having Beswick as a sports psychologist was a stroke of genius) to get those great performances out of the players when it mattered, but we could never get the consistency of the sides who were always around the top 7. Due to a mix of having some players who were past their best, some young players still learning the game, some players with quality but not a winning mentality and a handful of truly top players. It was the best time ever to be a Boro fan, but a trophy, a final and 7th really was the limit of what that squad could achieve.
We were similar to Arsenal in the early 90s and Liverpool in the late 90s. Just unfortunately we never had the money post Mclaren to build on what he did, like Arsenal were able to do under Wenger and Liverpool were able to do in the 2000s and 2010s.