CONFIDENCE-sapped Middlesbrough host Birmingham City tomorrow, with boss Tony Mowbray remaining upbeat despite the slump in form.
As well documented since the turn of the year, 2013 has yielded a pitiful seven points from a possible 36 for the Teessiders, who have dropped too ninth position in the Championship, although, incredibly, just three points separate Boro from sixth-placed Nottingham Forest.
Ahead of the clash with Lee Clark’s Blues, Mowbray insists that he has not allowed the form to affect his own persona on the Rockliffe Park training pitches.
“How do I keep myself going? It’s what you do,” Mowbray said. “You work hard every day, you don’t cut corners, you keep going and keep at it, make sure they do have confidence and belief in themselves, although you can see that can be eroded in the course of a match.
“We had the ball a lot at Bristol and yet when their goal went in the confidence was eroded. That’s what can happen, we need to bring that confidence back and it’s up to me to try to do that.”
Rather than mask over Boro’s failings, Mowbray pointed at their shortcomings in attack which are spearheading their downfall. But he is still optimistic that their form can be reignited, taking hope from the win against leaders Cardiff a fortnight ago.
“The bottom line is we are where we are,” Mowbray admitted. “We talk a lot but the reality is we didn’t deserve to go down against Huddersfield or Bristol City.
“We fell behind at Bristol and shot ourselves in the foot. They are fighting for their lives, got a goal, hung on and more teams will be like that, Birmingham the same.
“We went to Bristol to win and I thought we established authority in the game early on. We did that and yet we couldn’t score the goal. Can we re-energise the players? We attempt that in every game. We have got to go again with nine games remaining.”
H Boro have let Wearsider Jake Fowler, an England U19 international, join Conference club Gateshead on a month’s loan, while Ben Gibson has rejoined Tranmere on loan.