Tony Mowbray is ready to put his footballing principles to one side to steer Middlesbrough clear of relegation.
Two wins in six matches since taking over from Gordon Strachan has left ‘Boro one place from the bottom of the league with the crucial festive period fast approaching.
Strachan built a side that was aiming for promotion but the squad that Mowbray has inherited faces a very different task.
Seven games in a month will decide if ‘Boro are to chase a play-off spot or be involved in the relegation dogfight with Boro fans concerned that it could be the latter.
“Scott McDonald played for Motherwell, Kris Boyd played for Kilmarnock, Kevin Thomson played for Hibs and Barry Robson played for Dundee United,” Mowbray explained. “It’s not as if they’ve been at the Old Firm all their lives.
“I would like to think they know what sort of battle they face over the next few games. I don’t see that as a huge negative.
“I’d like to think they are fully realistic now about the fact it’s going to be a tough 20-odd games and we have to be ready for it.
“The players have to know what is coming. It’s not going to be a season of silky soccer.
“Over the years, I’ve tried to create teams that play a certain brand of football and score lots of goals – maybe at the moment we’re not in a situation to turn into Barcelona overnight. We realise where we are, and we have to be ready for the battle.”
On Saturday ‘Boro travel to face sixth placed Coventry before hosting promotion favourites Cardiff City at the Riverside Stadium.
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