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JEFF IN THE SUNDAY SUN
NOTHING GUARANTEED IN BORO PROMOTION PUSH


Twelve months ago the fixture schedules saw Boro supporters planning trips to Anfield, The Emirates and The Etihad. You can't disguise the fact that Barnsley, Burton and Bolton don't hold the same appeal.

The fact that already almost 20,000 have purchased season tickets suggests that alongside loyalty, the thought of another season in The Championship doesn't exactly turn people off. Let's be clear, financially the Premier League is the only place to be and also seeing world class superstars at The Riverside was something that lifted a horrendous season after a seven year absence.

That apart though, a Leicester City miracle aside, there is now a top seven that appear head and shoulders above the rest. Last season both Mark Hughes at Stoke and Tony Pulis at West Brom admitted that their goal was eighth place. There are four or five teams who expect to finish around the mid-table mark and for the rest a season flirting with relegation is the reality.

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That means as a supporter you are going to watch a lot of defeats and as with Boro last season, sadly, not too much entertainment either. Newcastle have twice put their supporters through a season of hell before dropping to the second tier. They immediately bounced back though with great seasons that had their supporters purring with the enjoyment of success.

Sunderland's highlights in recent seasons have been late, late great escapes. The end justifies the means but hardly satisfactory fare for the punters who endured nine months of misery before a few weeks of success. They, like Boro, are hoping that they can emulate Newcastle and make an instant return to the promised land. One thing you would imagine is that both of the region's Championship teams will provide their supporters with more goals and victories next season than was evident during the last disastrous campaign.

Boro fans know all too well though that you can take nothing for granted in what is probably the most competitive league in European football. On their day any team can beat any other. Last time around, during the Karanka sulk period, Boro contrived to lose at both Rotherham and Charlton who were locked in a relegation dog fight.

Another frustrating factor about life in The Prem is the lack of games, especially of a midweek variety. The eight extra games do mean that the three games in eight days scenario seems to occur regularly throughout the season. Fans do like quantity to hopefully accompany quality.

Having said all that, and along with thousands of others looking forward to the start of a promotion push, anything less than an immediate return to the top will be deemed as failure. Not too many will complain about fewer games and the likelihood of another fight to finish 17th or better the next time around.




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