NEW year slumps rather than the New Year sales have characterised football life in Middlesbrough.
Marvin Emnes, though, is out to bury those demons that have encircled Teesside the past couple of seasons.
Boro, who have won their last three, will start 2014 tomorrow in Lancashire facing 18th-placed Bolton (kick-off 3pm) with two aims of the day.
One target is to extend Aitor Karanka’s first winning streak, the second is to make sure there is not a repeat of the catastrophic collapse endured at the beginning of 2013 when a high-flying Boro capitulated so much they went from promotion favourites to hovering above the relegation spots.
Emnes knows history cannot resurface itself: “We haven’t done so well on New Year’s Day lately and it has been the start of a really bad time for us in the last two seasons,” he said.
“But we are playing well now and everyone looks sharp and solid so it is time to go there and change that form.
“We have a bit of a bounce after three good games and so we all think we can go there and take the three points.”
Karanka’s impact on Riverside has begun to be reflected – the unlikely festive wins against Burnley and Reading has served as an indication of the quality of this Boro side.
Emnes, who should shrug off an ankle knock, went on: “The manager has asked a lot of us since he arrived and it has taken some time but it is coming now.
“We are all smiling.
“Everything looks a lot brighter after a few wins.”
It is a vital afternoon.Buoyed by the three-game winning streak – and three clean sheets – 15th-placed Boro are now closer to the play-offs (six points) tha they are to the drop zone (eight points).
Victory could move them into the top half of the table, though given the club’s poor away record, a draw would not be unwelcome.
Richie Smallwood is set to come in for the suspended Dean Whitehead.