Ayala: We must keep looking up

Darlington and Stockton Times: Ayala: We must keep looking up Ayala: We must keep looking up

THE gap separating Middlesbrough and the Championship’s bottom three stands at only four points, but on-loan defender Daniel Ayala insists the squad must continue to look up rather than over their shoulders.

Boro missed out on a chance to put more daylight between themselves and the relegation zone after twice throwing away a lead at Birmingham City on Saturday.

The Teessiders looked like they were heading for a crucial away win at St Andrew’s, but for the second game running Aitor Karanka’s side switched off and allowed their opponents to grab a late goal.

On Saturday, it was the difference between winning and drawing and with several teams around them picking up points from the last two Championship programmes, Boro’s position in the table is growing increasingly concerning.

On top of that, the Teessiders have some tricky fixtures over the festive period with Brighton, Millwall, league leaders Burnley and Reading all on the agenda and defender Ayala admits his side must start picking up wins – and soon.

“We have to start getting three points as soon as possible,” said Ayala, who scored his third goal since joining on a three-month loan deal on Saturday.

“You cannot look back, though. We have to look forward. We have another game coming up against Brighton and we’ll have to get the three points there.”

Boro’s form in the first half of the season has given Karanka’s men a mountain to climb in the second with their chances of making a push for the play-offs looking less and less likely as the weeks go by.

While Ayala admits reaching the play-offs will be difficult this season, the Spanish centre back insists there is still hope if Middlesbrough can put a run of form together over the coming months.

He said: “It is difficult to get to the play-offs but the league is so crazy that if you win three or four weeks in a row then you have confidence and you never know what could happen.

“It’s only three weeks since the new manager came in but I know we have really enjoyed training and I think you can see the changes on the pitch. I think we’ll start winning games soon.”

Saturday’s visit of Brighton will be Karanka’s fifth game in charge of the Teessiders and Ayala believes there have been signs of improvement since his fellow Spaniard was appointed.

The 23-year-old returned to the starting-line-up at St Andrew’s and produced a performance that impressed his manager.

Ayala lost his place in the side following a mistake that led to Jason Steele’s red card at Leeds United, but now he hopes to be given more opportunities to impress.

“When you have a new manager you just want to do well and I really want to do well,” the on-loan Norwich defender said. “I’m feeling good and I am working really hard in training and so is all the team. Everyone wants to play but it’s just 11 that can go out on the pitch. I’m just glad I did well and hopefully I can play in the next game.

“I haven’t been here too long, but maybe in the past we didn’t have that much confidence but I think in the last two or three games we have been quite unlucky. I think we will get points away from home. I don’t think it was a lack of confidence.”

After George Friend picked up a knee injury at Derby, Karanka was forced to change his back four against Birmingham with Ayala partnering Jonathan Woodgate and Ben Gibson pushing out to left-back.

The Spaniard has had to play three different combinations at the back in Boro’s last four games and Ayala believes it has hampered their chances in games.

He said: “It doesn’t help changing the back four but sometimes you have to do it when you have injuries. When you change too much it’s not a good thing but if you don’t play well you have to change it and try to get the right combination of players to stop the goals.”

Comments (4)

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11:56am Wed 11 Dec 13

The frog says...

Does anyone actually believe that tripe from
Ayala??
The misery train keeps rolling on and guess who
the driver is!! Since Mr Karanka has been appointed
there has been little change in MFC fortunes which
is set to continue unless the team and squad is dramatically
improved.
Sacking Tony Mowbray was not the answer but inevitable
as somebody has to be the scapegoat. Anyone going
to the game on Saturday I advise to leave with 10 mins
remaining or it's All ABOARD!!
Does anyone actually believe that tripe from Ayala?? The misery train keeps rolling on and guess who the driver is!! Since Mr Karanka has been appointed there has been little change in MFC fortunes which is set to continue unless the team and squad is dramatically improved. Sacking Tony Mowbray was not the answer but inevitable as somebody has to be the scapegoat. Anyone going to the game on Saturday I advise to leave with 10 mins remaining or it's All ABOARD!! The frog

1:16pm Wed 11 Dec 13

Count Jim Moriarty says...

The frog wrote:
Does anyone actually believe that tripe from
Ayala??
The misery train keeps rolling on and guess who
the driver is!! Since Mr Karanka has been appointed
there has been little change in MFC fortunes which
is set to continue unless the team and squad is dramatically
improved.
Sacking Tony Mowbray was not the answer but inevitable
as somebody has to be the scapegoat. Anyone going
to the game on Saturday I advise to leave with 10 mins
remaining or it's All ABOARD!!
Typically ludicrous lack of patience. How the new manager is supposed to change everything in 3 games is beyond me! Realistically, we can write this season off, mid table finish at best. Only when Karanka can bring his own men in and get the team playing his way will we be able to judge realistically.
[quote][p][bold]The frog[/bold] wrote: Does anyone actually believe that tripe from Ayala?? The misery train keeps rolling on and guess who the driver is!! Since Mr Karanka has been appointed there has been little change in MFC fortunes which is set to continue unless the team and squad is dramatically improved. Sacking Tony Mowbray was not the answer but inevitable as somebody has to be the scapegoat. Anyone going to the game on Saturday I advise to leave with 10 mins remaining or it's All ABOARD!![/p][/quote]Typically ludicrous lack of patience. How the new manager is supposed to change everything in 3 games is beyond me! Realistically, we can write this season off, mid table finish at best. Only when Karanka can bring his own men in and get the team playing his way will we be able to judge realistically. Count Jim Moriarty

1:21pm Wed 11 Dec 13

The frog says...

4 games if my memory serves me right!!
I would not call 5 years in the football wilderness
a lack of patience.
4 games if my memory serves me right!! I would not call 5 years in the football wilderness a lack of patience. The frog

11:38am Thu 12 Dec 13

keymay says...

When you are at the bottom the only place to look is up, unless you are staring into the abyss that is. Wholesale changes in January are required I think, especially in terms of a striker or two and a tough central defender who will not stand on ceremony.
When you are at the bottom the only place to look is up, unless you are staring into the abyss that is. Wholesale changes in January are required I think, especially in terms of a striker or two and a tough central defender who will not stand on ceremony. keymay

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