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Middlesbrough too generous as West Brom dream of Premier League survival

17 January 2009 06:50
Tony Mowbray is far too much of a realist to suggest he can pull off the mother of all Premiership survivals. But if opponents as generous as Middlesbrough keep being put in front of them, Albion may still upset the odds given the congested nature of the table.

This was the Baggies' third straight home league win and their first ever double in the top flight – ironically over the club where Mowbray was such a legend in his playing days. It took them off the bottom, at least until Tottenham play Portsmouth this afternoon.

But perhaps the real story of this mistake-ridden yet highly watchable game was the plight Middlesbrough find themselves in. Ten league games without a win and a whisker away from the drop zone does not make happy reading for Gareth Southgate whose team are ahead of Albion on goal difference.

Boro had precious little luck and played the last 28 minutes a man short after midfielder Didier Digard was harshly shown a red card by one of the most lenient referees in the Premiership for allegedly stamping on Borja Valero.

But by that time, they were already two goals down with only Stewart Downing showing any sign of staging a recovery in a shapeless display.

Southgate was rightly furious about Albion's opening goal with just three minutes on the clock when Brunt looked at least a yard off-side as his low shot deflected off Tony McMahon. Frustratingly for Boro, Afonso Alves thereafter had one of his more profligate afternoons before Albion finished them off.

The Boro manager admitted that if he worked for a less patient, tolerant chairman than Steve Gibson, his job might be on the line. 'Steve is a ruthless businessman and if he thinks there needs to be change, he'll make change. I could not have any complaints if he did given the run of results we've had. I am led to believe he is totally supportive but I don't sit here thinking I am bullet-proof even though I give every ounce of energy to this club.'

'He decisions went against us today but we understand the spotlight will now be on us. Everybody will be asking questions of it but we have to stand strong. It's how we come through this as a group that is important.

" Everyone will be analysing everything we do now but these are the challenges you sometimes face in football.'

Source: Telegraph