Luton Town go in as rightful favourites against Middlesbrough at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday evening according to Neil Warnock.
The 72-year-old had a lot of respect for Nathan Jones’ men when he spoke to the Northern Echo ahead on the midweek affair.
He said: “Luton last year started really well against us. They always started really well. We thought we were playing Real Madrid for 20 minutes.
“The games I’ve seen them, they’ve played really well. Passing it and moving it and you’ve got to be on the front foot to compete with them.”
The Hatters have been one of the surprise packages of the campaign so far and appear to have realistic play-off aspirations this term following in the footsteps of Brentford and Barnsley. Particularly dangerous at home as well, typified by their emphatic 5-0 win over fourth placed Coventry City at the end of September.
Boro will be licking their wounds after their 2-0 defeat at home to Birmingham City at the weekend. Summer signing goalkeeper Joe Lumley could have done better for both of the Blues’ goals in what was a very evenly matched encounter.
With Luton and West Bromwich Albion on their travels going into the international break it is imperative that Boro pick up at least one positive result to keep pace with the race for the top six.
Quiz: Have each of these 24 ex-Middlesbrough academy players ever played in the Premier League?
Warnock is clearly aware of the unrelenting pressure around his position in the dugout and is trying to lower expectations for his side’s matches this week. If Boro come away empty handed on both occasions then there will be a lot of off the pitch murmurings during the international break.
A run of three 2-0 victories over relegation threatened sides has papered over the cracks a little in recent weeks and such that may be reopened in the examinations that they will face against the Hatters and the Baggies. Warnock is respectful of the opponents as always but there is a reason he is talking down his team’s chances.