Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting NORTHERN ECHO to 80360 or email us
It's hard work and honesty for Boro
HE is clearly hurting from his side's recent slump in form, but manager Tony Mowbray has vowed to fight on in his quest to guide Middlesbrough back to the Premier League.
Saturday's defeat to relegation threatened Bristol City saw Middlesbrough slip to ninth in the Championship table, their lowest position since the start of the season.
The Teessiders lie three points behind Nottingham Forest in the final play-off spot and they have nine games left to climb back into the promotion reckoning.
Nine defeats in their last 12 league games has left the Boro squad flat, but Mowbray remains positive that there is still plenty to play for in the final two months of the season.
Saturday's visit of 14th-placed Birmingham is a must-win game for Boro if they want to stay in contention and while he has already admitted their form since the turn of the year is painful, Mowbray insists he will continue to work hard behind the scenes to turn things around.
"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.
"You work with players, all different personalities, different characters and 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."
The fact Boro barely troubled a team fighting to survive in the Championship is a concern and Mowbray believes there were problems at both ends of the field.
Mowbray is trying to address such issues with his side leaking a worrying amount of goals, while a previously effective strike force has been hit by injuries or loss of form.
"We didn't penetrate enough at Bristol and didn't get men behind them. We couldn't really see how they were going to score and yet we allowed the boy to step inside, it wasn't a clean strike, he scooped it. It could have gone anywhere," Mowbray said.
"It was right in the top corner. There was still a long way to go then but we didn't threaten their goal enough. You don't get anything for possession, you have to have shots, get the ball in the box, run in the box, that's why it is disappointing.
"I don't think it was a game we deserved to lose 2-0 but we couldn't get back in to it without a goal threat.
"Ultimately when teams defend deep we have to get in the box, we didn't get enough in their box today."
Saturday's defeat came a week after Boro had toppled league leaders Cardiff at the Riverside, a result Mowbray had hoped would re-ignite Boro's play-off push.
The Teessiders face struggling sides Wolves, Peterborough and Sheffield Wednesday in the coming weeks and like Bristol City and Huddersfield, Mowbray believes Birmingham will provide a similar threat.
Whilst trying to keep upbeat himself, Mowbray has the task of lifting a squad lacking in confidence, but he remains positive that his men can get a result at the weekend.
He said: "Bottom line is we are where we are. We talk a lot but the reality is we didn't deserve to go down in the games against Huddersfield or here today.
"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 came here 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 them? We attempt that in every game. This time last week we beat the league leaders, this time after two defeats we have got to go again with nine games remaining."
More Middlesbrough FC News