Launch Stat Attack On Fulham
IF YOUR glass is by inclination half full, drink up in confidence and get another round in; if it is half empty, prepare to smash it to the floor in pessimistic anguish and fear... Fulham have never won at the Riverside in the Premiership.
In fact, the statistics are so starkly stacked up in Boro's favour that even Ali Brownlee's innate Teesside doom-monger DNA must be screaming "typical Boro!" in silent alarm.
According to the incredibly detailed BBC number-crunching preview, in seven Premier League games Boro have won five and drawn two. And the Cottagers have not won on Teesside in the top flight for 60 years, since their 1-2 victory at Ayresome Park on 7 September 1949 when Johhny Spuhler netted for Boro after a ball in from Wilf Mannion.
Fulham's last win here of any sort was a 2-0 division two victory over soon to depart Malcolm Allison's floudering side on 24 March 1984 (attendance 5,415!)
Boro are chasing a fourth successive home Premier League victory over the Cottagers. We won 1-0 last year on the Goal Machine's samba powered debut with a Jeremeie Aliadiere strike; the previous season was the last day 3-1 sunshine romp after which Mark Viduka brought his sprogs onto the pitch to wave g'day and sign off a final flourish with a goal; and the one before that was a lively 3-2 with Jerel Hasselbaink, a still interested Yakubu and James Morrison on target.
The only goalless draw came in a division two clash down there in December 1924.
Fulham have never done the double over Middlesbrough in top-flight football.
Before the recent shock successive 3-1 victories at Bolton and Manchester City Fulham had not won away all season. In fact, they had suffered travel sickness worse than on a SunnyD and sweet fuelled ankle-biters social club charabanc to Scarborough and had tasted victory on the road three times in three seasons.
And if that wasn't enough, Mark Lawrenceson has tipped Boro to win. He actually got it right last week so there must be a fear that he has used up his season's quota of correct forecasts.
If ever we needed Boro to match him and get back to back wins it is in this game. We must make sure those uncanny stats continue to stretch in our favour. Victory could take Boro out of the bottom three if Tango Manager Phil Brown can kick his home town team in the teeth, and even if the ailing Mackems can get something a win over Fulham would be an almighty boost for our survival hopes.
We need Boro to play with the same energy, determination and spirit again. We need the crowd to turn up the volume again, even if theer won't be a heaving away end to bounce off. We need Tuncay to skittle stewards in celebration again. We need Marlon King to score an even later goal. And after George Boateng's timely spawl under the mighty challenge of Jezza to tee up a goal last week, we need Mark Schwarzer to play like he did last season at the Riverside and not actually save any shots. He writes kids' football books, he can surely see the fairytale potential in an old boy aiding our escape.
Come on Boro!