AFTER finally ending the search for points in 2013, confident defender Stuart Parnaby believes Middlesbrough have shown the sort of character required to seal promotion.
Boro’s first win over Leeds United in approaching 21 years on Tuesday brought an end to a run of five successive defeats in the Championship.
While concerns among supporters had started to grow, there has remained a steely determination and strong level of optimism among the playing staff that the situation would turn for the better.
Now that the slump is over, Parnaby believes Middlesbrough have the dressing room togetherness and players capable of making the most of their position in the Championship’s top six.
“It’s been strange, one of those things. We didn’t get any breaks, deflections during our run and sometimes you don’t get the rub of the green – that’s what can happen,” said Parnaby.
“There were negatives when things weren’t going to plan, but because of the characters and the relaxed manager we have we have never got too bogged down with things.
“The manager (Tony Mowbray) has really helped. He is not going to panic, he is always relaxed, so we won’t panic, that’s how we all are.
“We know we have a good group of lads and it is a great place to be. People might think there are problems but there never has been.
“Now we know the quality of squad we have here and we have to push on and earn what we deserve. The whole division is like this, but we are more than capable, we just have to prove it.”
The run of poor form arrived after Christmas and Parnaby feels the timing only intensified the cries for things to turn around.
“It made it worse, definitely,” said the 30-year-old. “It’s been a case of we have not claimed any points this year.
“We have constantly been reminded of that. It’s only been four weeks in reality but it’s all been about ‘not winning this year’. It does sound bad when you say it. But that’s gone now and we move on.”
Having ended the new year slump with a victory over a dogged Leeds team, Parnaby says Middlesbrough have shown another side to their game ahead of the final 15 matches of the season.
“People might not see us as a team who want to fight, but we have to be up for it when it comes along like it did with Leeds,” said the Durham-born full-back, recalled for the first time in a league game since New Year’s Day.
“There’s no problem with morale and, confidence-wise, the win over Leeds should get us back to where we want to be.
“It’s going to be a big sixpointer against a team in a similar position to where we are on Saturday at Palace and we need to be ready for whatever they have for us. We need to crack on now.
“The gaffer has talked about our previous dip – when we lost a couple – and we then went on a good run. It can happen.
“We have to make sure it does this time. We need to make sure the five-match run we had is forgotten about.”
Middlesbrough will have to achieve their aims at Selhurst Park without Tuesday’s goalhero Curtis Main, who is suspended following his dismissal.
Defender Jonathan Woodgate is also going to be missing with his recurring muscle problems and he is also a doubt for Tuesday’s trip to Burnley.
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