Gibson hails Middlesbrough’s team spirit

BORO DEFENDER: Ben Gibson
BORO DEFENDER: Ben Gibson

BEN Gibson says that Middlesbrough’s defensive record is a representation of the togetherness of the squad, writes CHRIS BELL.

Boro have kept 17 clean sheets in all competitions this season, their impermeable defence setting a foundation for their promotion aspirations.

Defender Gibson has been a mainstay in the back line, partnered mostly with Daniel Ayala or Kenneth Omeruo, like he was against Brentford last Saturday due to Ayala’s suspension.

But the academy graduate, 22, is modest about his efforts, preferring to laud the “whole team effort” instead.

He said: “The wingers track back, the follow runners, the centre-mids in front of us are excellent, they squeeze.

“It’s a real team effort that starts from the front and it’s a testimony to the team that we have so many clean sheets.

“One mistake in this league can cost you games so long may that (clean sheets) continue.”

Boro’s performance during the 1-0 win against the Bees last Saturday was short of the standards they have set themselves under the tutelage of boss Aitor Karanka.

Winning takes precedence, Gibson admits, but against Charlton this weekend a return to the expected performance is high on the players’ priorities.

“We were disappointed with our performance (last week) but you get games like that. The important thing is that you grind results out,” he added.

“We believe we have good footballers and we want to dictate football matches, dominate games.

“We want to set our stamps on games and go and affect teams and we want to do that on Saturday.”

The formula for promotion to the Premier League after a six year hiatus is a simple equation that the Riverside outfit have been accustomed to following since the beginning of March 2014.

But with at least five teams in the promotion mix at present, nothing is guaranteed.

“We have to win league games and get out of this division,” he stated.

“Clean sheets, hard work (is what will get Boro promotion) and we’re managing to do that at the moment.

“Keep them clean sheets coming and we’re not going to be far away.

“Slowly but surely we’re getting there and our points tally is going up.

“There’s 18 games left. That’s such a long time in football, a lot can change.

“It’s incredible how tight it is.

“We’ve got to concentrate on us and try and break away from that pack, keep winning our games and we’ll end up somewhere near where we need to be.”