FOR Michael Carrick and Middlesbrough, the equation is pretty simple when it comes to what's required in the final stretch of the Championship season.

"We've just got to try and win games," said the head coach.

Failure to win the majority of the remaining eight fixtures will mean Boro fall short in their bid to make the top six and the end of season play-offs.

Boro would probably need some favours along the way as well but Carrick isn't over complicating matters. Instead, he says Boro just need to focus on finishing the campaign as strongly as possible and even if that isn't enough to see them into the play-offs, it will at least ensure they go into the summer with momentum and positivity.

Boro had both after a three game winning game and although the 0-0 draw at home to Blackburn before the international break was frustrating, Carrick says his players are ready to attack the final chunk of the campaign.

"From week to week, game to game, it can look so different. In a four-game period there we picked up many points and it looks very different now," he said.

"There is still a bit of work to do to achieve our hope of getting into the play-offs, but all we can do is try and win games. We’ve got some tough games but we’ve got to try and put a run together again and build on what we’ve got and then see.

"Who knows right now. It might be too much to ask, we might pull it off. But at this stage, no one knows and we can only control what we can control and try and win the games we have while playing well and seeing what happens from there."


After that draw with Blackburn, Carrick said it was time for his Boro side to "let loose".

When that was put to Boro's head coach yesterday, he said: “When I say that I don’t mean it to the extreme.

"I’m always on at the boys about expressing themselves, believing in themselves and playing with that freedom from within to try things without holding back.

"If anything, it’s all to play for so go and be the best you can be. Hopefully the boys will be able to do that."

Boro are clearly a long shot to make the top six but with little expectation comes reduced pressure. Does that means there's nothing to lose?

“You’ve always got something to lose - whether it’s pride, points, places, the game," said Carrick.

"Whatever it is, when someone says there is nothing to lose, I always think there is something to lose whatever it might be. Ultimately, I never want to lose a game of football. Listen, I’d much rather be up the league higher than where we are, but we are where we are and we’ve just got to try and make the most of that.

"We’ve got to finish the season strong and we want to do that. We've managed to build a little momentum before the international break and we want to build on that. If that takes us towards the play-offs then fantastic.

"As the games go, we’ll try and make the most of that. If that doesn’t quite happen for whatever reason, then the goal is still to finish the season as strongly as possible going into the summer and building on that next season.

"We try to win every single game so it's not going to change how we approach these games.

"We go into games trying to win, we plan to win, we don't think about anything else. It doesn't change that. We understand the situation and where we are in the league but in terms of trying to get the result, preparation is the same."