Middlesbrough v Ipswich Town '“ Tony Pulis well prepared for Boro's battles ahead

A DEVOTEE of military history, Tony Pulis famously spent some time visiting the battlefields of the Crimean War during one of his breaks from football management.

Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis (Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire).

The well-read Middlesbrough manager has also cited the likes of Winston Churchill and Napeleon as being among his inspirations and so, in his current role, the experienced Pulis is digging in amid difficult times.

Keeping your head while others around you lose theirs is often the key to leadership and so Pulis is determined and steadfast in his desire to galvanise Boro’s flagging promotion quest.

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An alarming sequence of form, more especially at the Riverside, has put Middlesbrough – and specifically Pulis – under the microscope after a run of three defeats in four winless matches on home soil.

It has culminated in growing disharmony and angst in the stands, particularly during recent losses to Sheffield Wednesday and Burton Albion.

Matters would be likely to reach a crescendo should Boro fail to beat a rock-bottom Ipswich Town side who have won just once away from home this season, losing nine times.

Boro are closing ranks ahead of Saturday’s key test with the East Anglian club to prevent a drama lurching into something resembling a crisis in front of home supporters, who have seen their side win just once in eight league matches since September 22.

After a hugely disappointing December that would be redeemed slightly by victory on Saturday, Boro will swiftly switch their attentions to January, which promises to be the defining month in their season and Pulis’s reign.

The Boro chief has made no secret about his side’s deficiencies in the pace and width department since the summer, with the loan addition of Huddersfield Town winger Rajiv van La Parra – expected to be available for the FA Cup tie with Peterborough – representing a welcome step in the right direction for the Welshman.

Meanwhile, unsettled forward Martin Braithwaite is set to join Spanish outfit Leganes on loan, with Boro also linked with Crystal Palace midfielder Jason Puncheon and Aston Villa winger Albert Adomah.