Let's stay positive, Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray urges his players as play-off race intensifies (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting DST to 80360 or email us
Let's stay positive, Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray urges his players as play-off race intensifies
TONY MOWBRAY has insisted that his players need to stay positive in order to achieve their goal of promotion to the Premier League this season.
The highs of a win against league leaders Cardiff a fortnight ago were eclipsed by the lows of a double defeat on the road to Huddersfield Town and Bristol City – and despite being in and around the top six for most of autumn and winter, Middlesbrough approach the spring with momentum against them, outside of the top six with Brighton and Hove Albion and Nottingham Forest looking more likely of making the play-offs.
But Mowbray remains positive, knowing that they stand three points from a top-six place with nine games of the Championship season remaining – and has issued his team a challenge to make the play-off final at Wembley on May 27.
The Boro boss, who will lead his team out against Birmingham City tomorrow, said: “With the potential of being level on points with sixth place – it's all there still to play for.
“The run we've been on has created a bit of negativity, disappointment, frustration, and yet if you're one of those teams on the same points as us, the likes of Bolton, Forest and Brighton, I'm sure the feeling around their clubs will be positive.
“We have to make sure that negativity doesn't engulf us. The message to the players this week was simple – we have a fantastic opportunity and we've got a nine-game season to go where we have to win enough football matches to ensure we finish in the top six.
“The positive is that we've got Nottingham Forest, Brighton, and Hull to play at home with Bolton away from home. They are crucial games, important games, and hopefully at the end of it we'll find ourselves in the top six.
“Having achieved it once myself, I'd say the best way to get promotion is to go to Wembley, 35-40,000 supporters behind you and win, come home being a Premier League side. That's got to be our target for the end of the season.”
Jonathan Woodgate spoke of his frustration at Boro's January meltdown earlier in the week, and Mowbray felt that it while it was a good time for his most senior player to front up to the press, actions speak louder than words.
“Woody is a very positive character, and whilst he would have liked to play more for us this season, he's here to play in the Premier League, as I am here to manage in the Premier League,” said Mowbray. “All the players want to be there. It's easier coming from a senior player sometimes.
“Yet I feel we all have a burning ambition, we all want to succeed, the time for talking has stopped, we need to get some results. Hopefully together with the supporters we can achieve the first of those results.”
Mowbray, who was speaking at the relaunch of the club's charitable Foundation, believes his side face many more battles in their goal of returning Premier League football to Teesside, but feels the players are up to the challenge.
“Moving forward, this club is going to have to punch above its weight and have a fantastic season to get out of the league,” he said.
“You need the right chemistry, mix and balance. For the first half of the season we looked to have got that mix pretty good, second half not so good. We have to live with that but we still have the opportunity to go up.”
Regardless of their status next season, the club announced they were freezing season ticket prices for 2013-14, and Mowbray stressed the need to have the fans on their side.
He said: “I've always thought Teesside is a unique part of the country, almost like an island. I know they all love their club, support their club, we're trying to achieve for them.
“It's difficult, yet we need Teesside people to stick with their club through the thick and the thin. At the moment, it's a little bit thin, but we've got nine games to give us a good opportunity.”
Andy Halliday signed a two-year contract extension yesterday, and Mowbray paid tribute to the Scottish player, who was converted from an attacking role to left-back this season.
“Halliday has been rewarded for his talent, for his drive and desire. He's full of all of the human traits you'd want from a footballer. He's a passionate guy, humorous in the dressing room, he's a very lively boy, he brings a hunger to the dressing room.
“We didn't want to lose his qualities and his talent, for such a young guy it's important to keep him at the club. He's going to be an important player for this club, I'm sure.”
- Ben Gibson has joined Tranmere Rovers on loan until the end of the season. The centre-half, nephew of Boro chairman Steve Gibson, will stay with the Prenton Park outfit should they reach the play-offs.
- There will be a bucket collection at Saturday’s home match with Birmingham City to raise funds for the MFC Foundation. Future fund-raising events include a zip-wire challenge, to be held at the Riverside in May, and an African adventure during the summer. Fans can also have a go at the speed cage to see if they can beat Boro’s star players with the power of their shots.
More Middlesbrough FC News