Middlesbrough FC v Preston North End - Michael Carrick issues complacency warning - to players and fans

A NEAR 3,000-strong visiting contingent backed Michael Carrick's Middlesbrough to the hilt in his first match in charge – at Deepdale in late October.

Boro have travelled a considerable distance since. After a cruel late concession in a 2-1 reverse that day, the Teessiders were only kept out of the bottom three on goal difference.

Today, 20 league games on, they are in third and have a chance of automatic promotion.

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In a losing cause, Boro's support was commendable in Lancashire. Now Carrick and his players need them, for a different reason.

Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

There was undue tension in the air in Tuesday's draw with Stoke, on a night when Boro missed the chance of moving within a point of second-placed Sheffield United. That gap is now back up to six.

Just as Stoke represented in-form and dangerous visitors, so do Preston, who are unbeaten in seven matches and have won nine away games this term. Only Burnley, the Blades and Luton have won more.

North End, who have won their last three games against Boro, will not be short on the support stakes either, with the game designated as their annual Gentry Day fixture when their followers come together to remember fans who have passed away in the previous 12 months.

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It all highlights the need for home fans to raise the decibels this afternoon, while remembering how far their team has come in such a short time.

Carrick said: “The boys have been playing particularly well for a period of time now and have been winning games, so it’s just a case of not taking anything for granted really. I include everyone in that – us as players and staff and fans.

"Supporters have a big part to play, both ways. In some ways as big as us as a group of players. It's the atmosphere and energy that's created. It goes two ways. You feed off it and if we're playing well and scoring goals they thrive off it.

"It's that understanding that the boys are trying. Sometimes things come off, sometimes they won't. When they do, it looks great, the boys get pats on the back. But we have to keep trying, even if it's not clicking at that moment in time."