GIVEN his side’s recent slump, Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray is relieved they are still at the right end of the Championship table!
The Teessiders have lost all five of their league matches since the turn of the year, their latest reverse coming at home to Barnsley on Saturday.
Tonight they entertain Leeds United still two points inside play-off territory.
That they have not vacated the top six owes much to the inconsistency of their promotion rivals.
Nonetheless, Mowbray is grateful that they have the points on board.
“Thankfully for us, we’re not in the bottom three. We’re at the right end of the table,” Mowbray said.
“That is a positive but we have to stick together and keep believing.
“There’s no shortcut. If I had a magic wand we would do something. We need the players selected to do their job and it will turn.”
One positive for Mowbray to emerge from the weekend defeat was the return to action of Mustapha Carayol.
The 22-year-old was on the scoresheet during the 3-2 loss and could keep his place for this evening’s game.
Mowbray said: “He’s had two run outs for the Under-21s and he’s been training hard.
“I didn’t expect him to get the full game, but he got his goal and from his perspective it’s great for him to be back. He does bring something different to our team.”
Mowbray has added two new faces to the Rockcliffe Park training HQ – though neither are likely to feature in the promotion challenge.
At one time, Boro made signing world-class Samba stars the norm rather than the exception.
But Mowbray was at pains to point out that fans should not get carried away by the arrival of midfielder duo Marcos Beltrame Rhoden and Rafael Peireira from Ituano.
The 19-year-olds, who will spend the rest of the season at Boro, play for the Brazilian club where Boro legend Juninho is now president.
Mowbray said: “Because of the connection with Juninho, it’s something that we think would be of benefit.”
“We don’t have an existing presence in South America and have no scouts there at all.
“If there are players there with European passports who meet our budget and criteria, why would we not utilise that connection with Juninho’s club? Hopefully, it will bear fruit over the years.”