Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's Win or Bust Time for the Boro; Mowbray's Men Routed at Palace

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's Win or Bust Time for the Boro; Mowbray's Men Routed at Palace

Article excerpt

Byline: Neil Cameron at Selhurst Park

Crystal Palace 4 Middlesbrough 1 FOOTBALL can be a glamorous business. Burnley on a Tuesday night in February is not one of those occasions. Yet if Middlesbrough are to finish this season in a position which at the very least offers a play-off path to the Premier League, which is pretty glamorous just about every night of the week, you get the feeling they must win in the Lancashire town tomorrow evening.

Lose at Turf Moor and Boro's 2013 record would read eight Championship games played, one win, seven defeats and no draws.

If that's not a rut then it will do until one turns up.

Entire seasons, and the Championship campaign does seem longer than most, are decided not by one game but by sequences of results, good or bad. Right now Middlesbrough are smack bang in the middle of a run which could quite easily end their promotion hopes if the players cannot find a way to win games again.

Tony Mowbray's side had lost all five matches in the league before Tuesday's vital home derby with Leeds.

They managed to win that, albeit fortuitously, but according to their manager the effort of that victory was so much they had little left for Saturday's trip to Selhurst Park.

Crystal Palace scored four times to Boro's one when the home side were 3-0 ahead and coasting.

Mowbray knew his side were lucky to come second in this one-sided contest.

So what has gone wrong? The case for the manager's defence is he has no defence.

Jonathan Woodgate's body doesn't allow him to play two games in a row. Seb Hines is also out, as is Justin Hoyte while Stephen McManus, an international centre-half, is unavailable for selection in that Mowbray doesn't rate him.

Stuart Parnaby limped off during the second half on Saturday.

However, desperate times call for desperate measures and Mowbray may have to throw the former Celtic captain into his side tomorrow. He honestly could not do any worse than Saturday's back four, who had no clue how to cope with Palace's attacking players.

Even Kevin Phillips, 40 in a few months, found it a simple task to free himself from Boro's defenders to score his side's fourth after coming on as a late substitute.

Mowbray said: "The squad is as weak or as strong as the numbers underneath what you would call the first 11. That's what football is. If we have Hoyte, Woodgate and Hines injured, you have to take it on the chin and get on with it.

"There is no chance any of them will make it for Burnley."

As for McManus, Mowbray gives off the impression he would rather play Michelle than Stephen.

He said: "He was at Palace on Saturday and sat on the bench. Let's see whether we need Stephen or not. A centre-half has to play that position."

Saturday was desperate. …

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