IT is a football cliché manager’s do not like to use, but Tony Mowbray admits tonight’s Championship game at Leicester City has the importance of a ‘six-pointer’ in his side’s quest to win promotion.
Mowbray takes his men to the King Power Stadium for this evening’s televised game level on points with Nigel Pearson’s Foxes in the race for promotion.
Leicester, Boro and Crystal Palace are all locked on 47 points, two behind secondplaced Hull City and ten behind leaders Cardiff, and a third straight defeat would see Boro lose some ground on their promotion rivals.
Even though Boro have form for bad runs in January, Mowbray has played down his side’s pointless start to 2013 and instead prefers to focus on keeping pressure on the teams above them in the table.
“I’d like to think they’re all going to be just as important as we go on, because while it isn’t a six-pointer, you can’t get away from it,” said Mowbray, who could have Marvin Emnes, Andre Bikey and Justin Hoyte available after injury.
“If we go there and win, I’d say the same thing as I did after the Cardiff game – it’s the fine margins. We lost that game 1-0 and maybe didn’t deserve to lose.
“If you take three points off Leicester and give it to us there is a six-point swing. The phrase ‘six-pointer’ doesn’t really make sense because it’s only three points and yet you take three off them and give three to us and that is a sixpointer.
“That’s what we’ve got at Leicester, a chance to take points off them. Every point is important. We need to maintain first and foremost the gap in the top six and keep pushing on to keep pressure on the teams above us.
“If we do close that gap they will feel they’re looking over their shoulder and then the next game is a massive game where they can’t relax and just go and play, because if they get beat someone is going to jump over them.”
Boro face a difficult task to go above tonight’s opponents.
In their past three games, the Foxes have put 12 goals past the opposition and have conceded twice in their last five.
Compared to their ten wins away from home during the last campaign, Boro have managed only five so far and Mowbray admits his side need to find a way to become hard to beat on the road again.
He said: “We do have to find the answer for winning away.
We need to at least match that number of wins in the second half of the season.”
A winless start to 2013 in the league has seen the gap between Boro and the final play-off place close from ten points to six, but Mowbray insists it is all about looking ahead rather than worry about what’s behind.
“We don’t sit here and worry about a six-point gap to the play-offs, we think about winning the next game and the one after that,” the Boro boss said. “People say Cardiff will have a sticky patch, but I’m not so sure they will.
They’re a pretty consistent team.
“In 27 games we’ve won 15 and that has put us in a good position and you have to believe as we go on in the next 19 games we can win 11, 12 of them which would take us into 70/80 points mark and put us in a position where we are going to be competing for the top two or the play-offs. If we only win five of them we’ll be scrambling again.”
In just over two years in charge, Mowbray has seen the good, the bad and the ugly from his side, but he insists he enjoys the pressure that comes with a promotion challenge.
He said: “Do I enjoy it? Football management is a rollercoaster of emotions. You try and be as consistent as you can so you don’t get too down after a defeat or too high after a win.
“You need to keep a level of consistency about the way you work and that’s what I strive to do.”