Gaffer on the Boro stats, increase in confidence and thanks to fans
Kenny Jackett sees no reason why his side can’t pick up another positive result against of the Sky Bet Championship’s promotion chasers, when Wolves visit Middlesbrough in front of the Sky TV cameras tonight (7.45pm).
Wolves haven’t won at Middlesbrough since April 1951, and Jackett thinks that the confidence gained from last Saturday’s 2-1 win over Derby County can help break their Teesside hoodoo.
Jackett said: “These things are meant to be broken at some time and why not on Friday night?
“I don’t think it necessarily hangs over the head of myself or the players anyway and we take it on a one off basis, certainly meetings of the clubs over recent years can have a bearing because you as a player have experience of playing against the players who are going to be playing in the next game.
“If it’s that type of run, then it’s a fantastic time to change that.
“Last week would have helped them (the players) invariably and bouncing back from where we’ve just lost three on the spin and we want to try to build a positive run and not fall back into a run of losses.”
A George Saville brace either side of a Chris Martin free-kick saw a return to winning ways at Molineux last time out, and, in Jackett’s eyes, the result and performance meant that his team are continuing to develop, in particular the defence.
He said: “There are players that are gradually improving, if you look at our back four and goalkeeper all of them at some stage have come through our youth and under 21 systems and as a unit have to keep improving.
“Clean sheets can really help us and at certain stages during the course of this season we’ve given soft goals away and we’ve seen confidence fall away because of that, but if we can be resolute at the back off of good distribution that always gives us something to build on.
“We stayed in the game and didn’t give Derby any chances or any soft goals, the free kick we could look at that the build up to it, we gave away a throw-in down the right hand side but even so it was a top class free-kick and there was not a lot our goalkeeper could have done about that, but we didn’t give easy goals away.
“We were always in the game, I felt that we had confidence because of it and that gave us a chance going into the last stretch of the game to win it.
“There were three big chances in that period [Bjorn] Sigurdarson hit the post, [Tom] Ince curled one just wide with his left foot and then ultimately the winner with Saville putting away a good cross from Matt Doherty.”
With back-to-back home games following the trip to the Riverside, Jackett has now challenged his team to put together a consistent run of form, which will see them break into the top half of the Championship table.
“We don’t want to be inconsistent, we want to try and build now to the end of the season,” he said.
“We’ve come through some testing times this year, we’re around about halfway in the league, we are as far away from the top of the league as we are from the bottom and we’ve rarely this season threatened either end and we want to continue to improve and between now and the end of the season and see where it can take us.
“We want to be winning all the time and we set out to do that.
“Obviously that’s not possible and our league position would suggest some inconsistency and we are looking to build on that, and if we can become a force in this division and also close the gap between ourselves and Derby and ourselves and Middlesbrough, that is what we are trying to do.”
Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough have already beaten Wolves twice this campaign, and Jackett knows all too well the size of the task which awaits his side, but is refusing to be overawed by it.
He said: “I view them as a club that has two very good players for every position at Championship level and they’ve let [Fernando] Amorebieta go back to Fulham but they still have seven/eight top defenders to be able to choose from - they’re very hard to score against.
“They’ve certainly been there [in the promotion race], last season they were unlucky not to go up and will run it close again.
“Exactly who’s going to win the title I don’t know, but they will not be too far away.
“I don’t think you can focus too much on the opposition, you need to do your homework and be aware of their strengths, but if you over-emphasise that to your players it starts to become a negative rather than positive.
“If the opposition become too big in their mind, then generally you don’t get a good performance.
“Yes, we have Middlesbrough away and we fully respect them and have done our homework on them and after that it’s about us playing well and trying to put our stamp on the game and work to our gameplan to try to win.”
Wolves go into the game with no fresh injury concerns, with Jackett confirming that despite being close to fitness, James Henry, Mike Williamson and Michal Zyro will miss the game, though the trio will continue to be assessed next week.
Meanwhile Jackett has expressed his gratitude to the small travelling contingent who will be attending the game at the Riverside Stadium.
The figure is well below the usual numbers who travel to watch Wolves away from home, but, with the game rescheduled due to being shown on Sky Sports, it has proved difficult for many fans to make the long trip.
CEO Jez Moxey yesterday reiterated his hope for more common ground between clubs and broadcasters (click here to view) and that is a view echoed by Jackett, who is also keen to highlight the excellent backing of those making the trip.
He said: “I do think there’s some talking to be done, and my focus is on the people who are going up there on Friday night.
“It’s tough to go there after work and it’s a different proposition to a Saturday where you have a clear day and a run up to it.
“The overall situation then of ticket prices, Sky and the fans’ stance - I’m sure there’s some talking to be done to find some common ground.
“For the people who are committing to go on Friday night, on behalf of myself, the players and the staff we really do appreciate it because obviously getting up there on a Friday is not an easy task but their support is greatly appreciated.”
These things are meant to be broken at some time and why not on Friday night?