It’s that time of the season where clichés are simply unavoidable. Crunch time, squeaky bum time, the final furlong and many more phrases will be coined as we approach the final nine games to see who can hold their nerve and reach the lucrative land of the Premier league.
For me it’s simple, Boro cannot lose against QPR. A win is obviously our aim but avoiding defeat will mean we then have 3 home games at fortress Riverside. Those four games could set us up superbly for a top two finish. If Boro were to lose then of course there would still be eight games left but I just feel the momentum would be lost and given that we capitulated at the final hurdle last season, cracks may appear psychologically with the players and the fans would be left thinking here we go again with the dreaded ‘P’ word.
Home games against Huddersfield, Preston and Reading (with the correct mentality and application) are winnable. Meanwhile Burnley face an away game with Brighton (a day after we play QPR), followed by difficult encounters with Cardiff, in form Leeds and an away trip to Birmingham shortly before facing us.
There are two reasons why I believe Boro will go up automatically this season, Momentum being the first. Boro should be buoyed by that huge result against a Hull side that are now playing catch-up and that momentum will carry through despite being interrupted by the international break. The players appear to have the bit between their teeth again and the next few games are an opportunity to pile the pressure on the rest. Burnley and Brighton play each other next and they can’t both win so a positive result for Boro means we will gain one way or the other. If Boro managed four wins in the next four games or even a draw against QPR and three wins that would put them on 82 or 80 points with five games left.
The other reason I feel Boro will be promoted is that they are better equipped than their rivals during a time in the season where games are arriving at a quicker rate than a Jamie Vardy party. It’s no secret that Boro have assembled a squad of real depth and talent and they will need them to play a part as Karanka will seek to freshen up his troops and ensure the intensity is maintained to power through some tough battles playing weekend and midweek for the next few weeks. It’s hard to believe that Brighton for example will be able to call on the same quality in their ranks as Boro can with players like Forshaw, De Laet, Stuani, Kike Sola and Dael Fry etc.
All Boro have to do is match the passion and desire of their rivals and their class will do the rest. A little bit of luck would be most welcome too.