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Boro can't hit vintage form every week says Juke
IN-FORM Lukas Jutkiewicz has urged Middlesbrough’s supporters to be realistic and not to expect ‘vintage’ performances every week during the team’s attempts to achieve promotion this season.
Since returning from Blackburn Rovers with three points 13 days ago Boro have stuttered to a point from a possible six available to them in the Championship.
The frustrating thing from Middlesbrough’s perspective was that both of those matches were at the Riverside Stadium, where Tony Mowbray’s men had previously won three in a row.
Supporters became more frustrated as the second half wore on against Derby County on Wednesday night, when Jutkiewicz’s second goal looked as if it had nicked victory with eight minutes remaining.
But then Paul Coutts grabbed a controversial equaliser in the closing stages to prevent Middlesbrough from reducing the gap to the top six to a point – even if there were strong hints of offside in the build up.
A draw was probably a fair result, with neither side really showing an ability to control things and there were too many needless turnovers in possession.
Jutkiewicz thinks such matches are exactly what the Championship can be about and it is about staying focused and working on seeing out results even when a team is not particularly playing well.
“You try to put your finger on why passes go astray, why we are a yard off, it wasn’t vintage and we will have to work on that, try to improve,” said Jutkiewicz.
“It’s tough to be vintage, to turn in top performances, on a consistent basis in the Championship. There have been games where we have played some really good stuff, others not so.
“You look at the teams who got promoted last year and there were times when they just did enough to win games and other times when they turned it on. Those were also the teams that would score in the last minute rather than concede late on. That’s what is disappointing. “ Jutkiewicz took his tally to four for the season courtesy of his second double since returning from injury.
But the fact Middlesbrough’s injury-list includes a number of attacking players – Mustapha Carayol, Curtis Main, Marvin Emnes, Ishmael Miller and Adam Reach have all been missing - is preventing Mowbray from being able to mix it up going forward.
But Jutkiewicz - aware that Scott McDonald edged closer to a first team return yesterday by scoring in a development team's 2-1 defeat to Sunderland - thinks Middlesbrough still have the personnel to rack up the points ahead of Saturday’s trip to Watford, who sit level with the Teessiders after the first nine games of the season.
“You don’t get an easy game in the Championship, they are always tight affairs where you win by the odd goal. We have to try to make sure we score rather than concede in the last minutes,” said the 23-year-old.
“For the fans it is important to realise we can’t turn it on every game in this division. There will be peaks and troughs. It’s possible to go on long runs and winning games. At the same time the teams are so close in terms of ability, there’s not much to choose between the teams.
“Everyone stays in contention for a long time and I think it will stay like that for the majority of the season.
“It’s hard to lift ourselves after conceding so late against Derby and losing to Leicester before that. I may come across negative but we are feeling low. Let’s not confuse it, though, we will be positive come Saturday and that has already started on the training ground.”
While disappointment was the over-riding feeling after the last two home fixtures, on a personal level Jutkiewicz is satisfied with his goal return since making his comeback.
Since returning to the starting line-up at Ewood Park on September 21 he has scored four in three matches. “My two goals were not much consolation because everyone in the changing room was a little bit flat,” said the 23-year-old.
“To get yourself in to a winning position and concede in the last minutes like we did made it feel like a defeat. It was really annoying because it looked as if my second would be the winner.
“It’s nice to score any type of goal, they all count, it doesn’t really matter which way they go in. I don’t care how they go in, obviously to put us in to a winning position wasn’t to last. It was bitter sweet.”