Onside Boro blog - What a difference a year makes

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WHAT a difference a year makes.

After two sterling home victories at the back end of 2012 I remember sat tapping away at my keyboard in an adrenaline-filled frenzy predicting Boro’s unstoppable charge towards the land of the lords.

The 3-1 drubbing to welcome 2013 at Derby was merely a blip. A dropped stitch in the tapestry of a season which was coming together beautifully - or so we thought.

Sitting pretty at the right end of the Championship, even the most extreme of pessimist out there would have scoffed at any suggestion as to what would come next.

As they would at the idea that Mogga would be fighting for his job at the end of that season - and indeed lose his cherished role months later after the current campaign followed in similar fashion.

With the manager went the self belief of the players - oh so obvious to see.

And with the manager and the self belief went the expectation of the fans - an expectation which rightly rose with such promise the year earlier.

A ship which was wobbling furiously has been steadied.

And a year which started with such promise and failed to deliver in the most disappointing fashion then ended with three consecutive victories.

It should have been four.

But the late leveller Boro conceded at Bolton was a timely reminder of the fragile mental state that remains within this side.

A year made up of so many defeats will take its toll on any team at any level.

And the home surrender to the roaring Hull City-soon-to-be-Tigers was utterly disappointing.

On the tin a 2-0 reverse to an in-form top flight side is how it should have gone.

But the Hull City starting 11 was not too dissimilar to the side Boro destroyed at the Riverside last season and, despite being in the middle of the aforementioned horrendous run of form, would have took at least a point from the KC had it not been for a Jason Steele error.

But a league run of four unbeaten finally allows just a touch of positivity.

Of course it’s wrong to get carried away, but it’s what the vast majority of us do.

And a quick glance at the league table shows again just how competitive - or poor - which ever way you choose to look at it - the Championship is.

Had Boro not conceded yet another late goal, this time at Bolton, we would have sat just four points behind Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town who currently hold the final play-off spot.

Remarkable considering we haven’t strung any meaningful run of results together throughout the season.

It wasn’t just the Reebok where Boro opted to play for 89 instead of the 90 plus minutes.

We were seconds away from a well-earned point in a reunion with Steve McClaren at Derby. Seconds away from a solid three points at Birmingham, themselves in a surprisingly great run of form.

And it hasn’t just been on the road.

Matthew Upson was invited into our area for a free header allowing Brighton to snatch victory when they came to town.

That goal led to Karanka publicly airing his discontent for the very first time about our inability to see a game out. It’s a discontent which must have been bubbling away inside the Spaniard for a while.

What he will probably find most frustrating - as I’m sure his predecessor lost many a night’s sleep over - is the team undoubtedly has potential but has been the master of its own downfall on so many occasions.

And after an unspectacular start Karanka may now be starting to achieve what was always going to be his first - and one of the most difficult - tasks, building the self-esteem of a team which had any confidence battered out of it in a year to forget.

All of those home-made statisticians who threw around calendar-year figures about how Boro would have been cast-adrift and ready for trips to Rotherham and Shrewsbury will now have to start again - as Boro hopefully continue in a quest to start afresh.

The seaside resort of Blackpool doesn’t usually offer Boro much luck or anything in the way of a points return.

But Paul Ince’s men are in a shocking run of form themselves having not won in the last eight attempts. And don’t ask their gaffer anything about Michael Chopra.

Saturday offers Boro an opportunity to kick on again ahead of an extremely winnable home game with Charlton. What we don’t want is to be winless in three in 2014.

It would be naive to expect a brief run of form to suddenly transform Boro into play-off contenders.

But this is the Championship. And, as we know only too well, a lot can happen in a year.