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George wants Riverside to be a Friend-ly place for Boro
GEORGE FRIEND has reassured Middlesbrough supporters that everything is being done on the training ground to improve the club's home form this season.
The Riverside Stadium has become a more difficult place to play for Boro in recent years with supporters frustrated by the quality of football – and results - on show.
Despite adjustments to the venue in a bid to improve the match-day experience over the summer, the 35,000 capacity has been under half full and an increase is unlikely against south coast club Bournemouth this Saturday.
Mowbray, though, would be the first to admit results have hardly helped during his tenure, knowing crowd figures have dwindled since Gareth Southgate's team were relegated in 2009.
The first half of the year was not much better. Middlesbrough only won two of their first ten Championship home dates in 2013, which was a major factor in the club's fall out of promotion contention last season.
Friend admits the record is simply not good enough, but insists the coaching staff are coming up with ways to address the slide ahead of a run of games already growing in importance.
Four of Middlesbrough's next six league games are at the Riverside, starting with the visit of Bournemouth.
Friend said: “It is a good chance for us. On paper we should be beating teams like who we have coming up. If we can go on a little run, you can soon rocket up the league, we know that from last season.
“I think teams play a lot differently at the Riverside. They know we pass it, they know our full-backs push on and our wide players push on. They like to frustrate us, which can frustrate our fans.
“Teams bank up against us at home. If we play like we did at Nottingham Forest then we could beat anybody and if we show good energy like we did then we will be OK. We work on stuff all of the time with the manger, Mark Venus and the coaches, they are meticulous all of the time to improve us.”
Middlesbrough's best performances this season have been away from home. After winning at Charlton, Mowbray's men have come close to winning at Wigan and Forest on Tuesday.
The reality is, however, Middlesbrough have won just one of their opening seven league games, despite losing just twice, and are out of the Capital One Cup.
Friend said: “I am fed up with stats at the moment. I like them myself but I have gone off them recently. It is not helping us at all. We will get back to the Riverside, hopefully beat Bournemouth and grow from there.
“There was a different energy about us at Forest, so hopefully we can show that at the Riverside. We have a big chance to make the Riverside a bit of a fortress. We want to be attacking teams like we did at Forest.”
Friend scored his second goal of the season during the 2-2 draw at the City Ground but was disappointed his thunderbolt was not enough to seal the points.
Now Middlesbrough go in to the Bournemouth game knowing there is a Riverside double header against Huddersfield and Yeovil Town after a trip to title favourites Queens Park Rangers a week on Saturday.
The left-back said: “I was really pleased with the goal at Forest. It's a shame it wasn't the winner. When you are away from home and you are 2-0 up you should be winning.
“It's really disappointing we didn't win. I was at fault for one of the goals. It would have been nice had my goal been the winner.
“But Forest are a good side, they gave us problems, so we can take heart from the way we played.”