SCENE of some fateful episodes in Middlesbrough’s history, how the visitors will be hoping that Hillsborough can provide a lightbulb moment today in what has been a sullen season so far.
During an underwhelming grind of a campaign, Boro head to familiar territory at S6, from where the Teessiders were relegated from the top-flight in 1988-89 and 1992-93 and lost a League Cup final replay in the spring of 1997.
Did I expect us to have more wins, for sure. Did I expect us to be higher in the table, for sure. I take that responsibility on my shoulders.Middlesbrough manager, Gary Monk
More profitably, Hillsborough was also where Boro booked their place in the FA Cup final at Chesterfield’s expense, also in 1997. How beleaguered head coach Garry Monk will be seeking his own illuminating moment this afternoon to quieten the slowly growing dissent.
Monk, who led Leeds to a 2-0 victory at Wednesday last season, has copped plenty of criticism following Boro’s last three away encounters, which have resulted in painful losses to Millwall, Bristol City and Leeds United and another poor away-day is likely to be beyond the pale for the visitors travelling support.
Issuing a message to supporters and on his quest to ride the storm, Monk, who has no fresh injury concerns for today’s encounter, said: “With the money we spent and the players we have, of course the expectation is high.
“Did I expect us to have more wins, for sure. Did I expect us to be higher in the table, for sure. I take that responsibility on my shoulders. After bad results comes pressure, and no-one understands the need for improvement more than me.
“But I can promise that action is being taken every single day and I am 100 cent confident of getting through.”
Former Boro manager and assistant head-coach Steve Agnew has joined Steve Bruce’s backroom staff at Aston Villa.