Middlesbrough come up against promotion chasers Bournemouth later today looking to extend their good form under Chris Wilder.
Wilder has had a good start to life at The Riverside but is showing no signs of getting carried away.
Two wins, two draws and a defeat in the five games under Wilder shows there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
The visit of Bournemouth will present a stern test for Wilder’s side as the Cherries are looking to overturn five games without a win.
Wilder acknowledged the threats Bournemouth present and admitted his side will need to be at the races if they are to get anything from the game.
Speaking to the Gazette before the game, Wilder said: “We know a big performance will be needed to beat the likes of Bournemouth. It will take a huge performance because they’re up there for a reason, regardless of what’s happened recently.
“We’ve previously discussed that the advantage to the recently relegated teams is huge and, in my opinion, they will be expected to really mount a huge promotion push and they are doing that.
“It’s for us to do our best to get a result for ourselves and for our supporters.”
Wilder then discussed the need to pick up momentum before the busy Christmas schedule, in this clash on his side’s own turf, as he added: “A big atmosphere is needed, which I’m sure we will get.
“And hopefully we can send everyone home happy with a really positive result. I feel we can get that result, but we will have to do a lot of things right to get that result.”
The game is live on Sky Sports at 12:30 and Boro will be aiming to move two points closer to the playoffs with a win.
Middlesbrough have been impressive under Wilder so far.
Their structure when out of possession has been better and there’s more onus to get into opposition faces. That has resulted in an improvement defensively and the only ingredient missing to becoming a top side is chance creation and conversion.
Boro have lacked goals under Wilder so far and will need to much sharper in front of goal against Bournemouth who are one of the best defensive sides in the division.
This is great test for Middlesbrough and Wilder and will give a good indication as to where they’re currently at.