Onside: Mogga gives Middlesbrough hope

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ONE hundred and one league games ago the Boro fans were given renewed hope of a return to the promised land - even if we were one place above propping up the Championship and staring into the abyss.

Tortured to the point of breaking point, the big spending Strachanovite era quite simply didn’t work and left the club hanging over a cliff edge - and this is coming from a fan who was delighted at the fiery Scot’s appointment.

TOP PRIZE ... bid to join Martin O Neill, Alan Pardew or Tony Mowbray in the managerial hotseat.

TOP PRIZE ... bid to join Martin O Neill, Alan Pardew or Tony Mowbray in the managerial hotseat.

In strolls Holgate hero and captain marvel Tony Mowbray.

Having already saved the club once as a home-grown captain, Mogga knew what what required, he knew the club.

And even if the usually predictable new-manager-syndrome equation of a first game win didn’t come to fruition, he soon turned the fortunes round with a team full of players ‘who weren’t his own’.

If Mogga was the type to celebrate, then Saturday’s 1-0 win at Brighton was the perfect opportunity - in his 100th game in charge.

And in those games Mowbray turned Boro from a one-dimensional outfit with a wage-bill which wouldn’t look out of place in the top 10 of the Premier League to genuine promotion contenders.

Let’s not get carried away.

Last night’s win over Hull took us to third in the league, three points off Nigel Pearson’s Leicester and perennial Welsh bottle-jobs Cardiff.

Mowbray admits we are still a ‘work in progress’. He often uses the term ‘football utopia’ - of which admittedly we are a long way off.

But in 101 games he has the fans believing again.

And sat to the right of me at the Riverside tracksuited up was Jonathan Woodgate, Lucas Jutkiewicz, Justin Hoyte and Kevin Thomson, all who are to come back in the team, as well as the terribly unlucky Matthew Bates - who could re-sign for the club.

Bottom club Peterborough beat in-form Huddersfield on Tuesday night - a result which epitomised what the Championship is all about.

But if Mogga continues to inspire the same rate of improvement over the next 100 games then maybe, just maybe, we will have broke free from the Championship and be back among the elite.

- Dominic Shaw