FULHAM: Boro have to win AND hope someone slips up to regain pole position in the promotion chase. I think they will . And win well. Roared on by 6,000 plus Teessiders, both partisan and ‘neutral’ Boro will do their bit. Emphatically. That is the part Aitor Karanka can control and he will have the team meticulously prepared tactically and psychologically and Boro will be fired up to roar into the Speedo wearing Cottagers from the off.
If Boro can show the steel and spirit, the art and industry they did at Norwich last weekend then they will tear into a deeply flawed Fulham side that have been woeful this term. Even if Aitor has to tweak his team because of injuries, a highly motivated, sprint starting Boro backed by a passionate Red Army will sweep past a leaky, disjointed Fulham that are safe and have nothing to play for. My money is on a comfortable Boro win.
Beyond that we are powerless … although I think all the pressure is on the others.
Watford kick-off early at ‘Muzzy Carayol’s Brighton’ and know they must win to retain top spot. Anything less and three teams can catch them in another cut-throat weekend of flux – don’t forget Norwich, they are still in the equation. Then Boro play. If both Watford and Boro win – and Norwich at Rotherham – the pressure on Bournemouth will be massive.
They and their fans have two days to stew before they host Bolton on Monday knowing a slip-up now could be fatal. And they look fragile. Seriously. The blubbing, open-mouthed shock and looks of Cherry crumble dismay when Sheff Wed pegged them back with a sarcastic stoppage time spot-kick spoke volumes about a team that are unsteady on their feet and feeling the heat. They have slipped before. Several times.
So that is the backdrop to yet another MASSIVE weekend. Another stint in the pressure cooker. Another nerve shredding, emotionally draining agony of calculations, permutations, palpitations, hyperventilations and watching games and results through trembling fingers from behind the sofa. Another exciting episode of a dramatic season. It’s been brilliant so far and it could get better – and even more tense – yet.
Whatever happens at Fulham it is not over yet – wait till we get to the tourniquet taut tension of the high-stakes Brighton match – but a win will leave Boro in an excellent position ready for the finale. It could be an epoch shaping end of a watershed campaign that catapults Boro back into the big time with a driven boss and a huge windfall to reshape the team with. We could be set for a second Riverside revolution. Let’s do this.
Go on then… who wants to start?