SHOULD anybody suggest to Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis that his side’s next three matches are eminently winnable, then he is likely to offer short shrift.
After a tough run on paper against the likes of West Brom, Leeds United and Sheffield United, Boro are afforded perceived respite in the shape of a trio of games against sides in the bottom half of the table, starting with Queens Park Rangers and followed by games against Wigan and Brentford.
Offering his take, Pulis is reading little into the sequence and is wise to the inherent dangers of the Championship.
It is a sensible philosophy, more especially since his side went down 2-1 in the reverse fixture at QPR and have dropped points against the likes of Millwall and Rotherham this season.
That said, Pulis is under no illusions that Boro’s form, more especially at home, must improve if the club are to achieve their season’s aims.
Pulis, whose side have home advantage in three of their next four games, said: “We watched QPR at Bristol City and they were very unfortunate to lose to what was a very dubious last-minute penalty.
“That shows what the league is like. If you turn up and think anything is going to be easy in this league, then you are going to get a shock.
“The results during the week have shown that again. Every week, you have to turn up and be mentally and physically ready to go to battle. It will be no different on Saturday.
“It is an exciting league and generally the case is that is goes on almost to the very end. The quality and competition is first-class.”
For the second successive weekend, Boro face a familiar face in the opposing dug-out this afternoon, in the shape of former manager Steve McClaren.