Consistency key to promotion bid
COLIN COOPER insists Middlesbrough are still on target for a return to the Premier League despite the club's recent indifferent run of results. New manager Gordon Strachan has presided over two defeats and a draw since taking charge at the Riverside. The results have seen the Teessiders slump from fourth in the Championship to 11th, 11 points behind leaders and North-East rivals Newcastle. And with forthcoming fixtures against bottom club Peterborough, promotion hopefuls QPR, Blackpool, Cardiff and Newcastle to come, it would be fair to assume the next four weeks could go some way to defining Boro's season. The Middlesbrough coach, however, dismissed the suggestion. The reason I know (it won't define Boro's season) is because I've been there and I've seen other clubs do it, said a bullish Cooper. I can go back to last season, how many times did people say this is a must-win game' What happens when you don't win a must-win game You've still got to play next week. But, yes they are very important games and it is an important month. In this league once you get into a groove, when you get used to not losing, that is a massive thing. And we're capable of doing that. But it's about getting three, four, five, six results on the bounce and not having a fall back when you don't get anything for two of three games. We have to get that consistency of win, win, draw, win, win, draw. The games we have got coming up represent really good challenges. Peterborough are bottom of the league and everyone says we should win. It is not a given. Then it is QPR, Blackpool, Cardiff and Newcastle. They are great games for the lads and challenge and certainly by Christmas we'll know where we'll sit in the grand scheme of things and where we need to go. But having played in a team at Nottingham Forest that were 17th at this time of the season when we went up it is possible. Roy Keane took Sunderland up as champions when they were 18th at this time of the season. But from Christmas onwards we have to be hitting the right kind of form. And from our position now we have to start performing on a regular basis. Chris Hughton's Magpies may be flying high at the top of the league at the moment but they've been hardly convincing in their ascent. Yet Cooper acknowledged he would gladly accept Boro mirroring Newcastle's style of winning ugly if it meant a way back to the Premier League. The ultimate thing is to win and play great football, create a load of chances and score loads of goals, said Cooper. The next thing is win, then don't lose. But our recent pattern of dominating games has to change. This has happened to us all season, like on Saturday against Forest. The teams that are consistent are the ones that will get out of this league, that is how it happens.
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