Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Adam's Vow That Boro Would Not Suffer the Curse of the Wembley Losers Seems Justified

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Adam's Vow That Boro Would Not Suffer the Curse of the Wembley Losers Seems Justified

Article excerpt

Byline: Dominic Shaw Sports writer

HANGOVER. What hangover? There was an element of concern in the aftermath of the play-off final defeat at Wembley that Boro would struggle to pick themselves up to go again this season.

It's happened to those who've fallen at the final hurdle in the past.

First team fixture and on-song midfield man Adam Clayton attempted to calm that agitation with a vow that Boro would be ready for another shot at the summit this year.

"If we can keep the same work ethos and the same group of players, as well as bring a few in, there's no reason why we can't go again," he said.

Yet even that promise came with a footnote of caution.

"You've got to be careful because Derby were in the same position last year," he said in the summer.

"They were up there and fell away, but I don't think our manager will let that happen."

So far, so good. Nine games into the season and Boro are in a better position than the defeated play-off finalists of the last decade were at the same stage of the following campaign.

Boro's 20-point haul is better than Derby's last year and Watford's the year before that.

And Aitor Karanka's side have got more points on the board than Blackpool, Reading, Cardiff, Shef-field United, Bristol City, West Brom, Leeds United and Preston had mustered in the eight seasons stretching back from the 2012/13 season.

It bodes well. Indeed, Watford, in 2013/14, are the only defeated playoff finalists who started the next season with just one defeat in their first nine.

Their impressive start to the season included a 6-1 hammering of Bournemouth and a 5-1 mauling of Barnsley but their 18-point haul was still two points short of what Boro have achieved so far this term.

Back in 2010/11 Cardiff City blasted out of the blocks to banish their painful play-off final memories by winning four of their first five games, keeping three clean sheets along the way, but they *only* boasted 17 points nine games in.

As did Tony Mowbray's West Bromwich Albion in 2007/08, an impressive start to the campaign from Mogga's free-flowing Baggies which included a 4-0 thumping of Ipswich Town and a 5-1 battering of QPR.

Derby managed 16 points last season - that was well before Steve McClaren had his head turned by the charm of Mike Ashley - while Blackpool pulled together the same tally after nine games of the 2012/13 season, the year after they'd suffered a narrow defeat to West Ham in the Cwhampionship showcase. That included the thenannual drubbing of Boro - 4-1 on this occasion against a moping Mogga's side still struggling to pull themselves together after a collapse at the end of the previous season.

On the subject of bouncing back from a set-back, the first Championship encounter of the 2009/10 season featured two sides looking to recover from heartbreaks of their own. …

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