IN the history of Middlesbrough’s meetings with Everton, watershed moments have been many.
Back in the autumn, a dismal 3-1 loss at Goodison Park was a real ‘welcome to the Premier League’ moment after a relatively serene start to their first season back in the top-flight after a seven-year absence for Boro.
This time around, the whole of Teesside will be collectively hoping that a positive result against the Blues can galvanise their survival quest, with Boro in desperate need of a major fillip after a grim seven-match winless streak in the league.
The omens are not exactly good, with Everton, whose 4-0 slaying of Boro on Merseyside on Boxing Day, 1995 was the precursor to a horror slide in the second half of that season, unbeaten in their past seven league matches.
Those with longer memories and inclined to be rather more positive would point towards a famous ‘coming-of-age’ moment for Bruce Rioch’s Boro babes’ against Everton in the winter of 1988 when the Teessiders put themselves firmly back on the footballing map after a Titanic FA Cup tussle with the Blues.
How Boro could do with a reprise of just a fragment of that magic, with a dull season of growing discontent teetering on the precipice.
In a bid perhaps to close ranks, Boro headed to Benidorm this week for some warm-weather training, with the hope of some metaphorical sunshine today.
On the merits of the training camp, head coach Aitor Karanka, who signed Patrick Bamford, Adlene Guedioura and Rudy Gestede last month, said: “When you are together 24 hours a day you speak about everything. How we started, how we are now, and for the future. The only way is to keep together and to fight together.
“When you arrive at a new place and are at the training ground, you go home and do not spend a lot of time with your team-mates.
“It is important for them (the new signings) to feel how strong this group is and why we have been good over the last three years.”