Ex-Middlesbrough man on reasons why promotion can be achieved

Ray Parlour believes Middlesbrough will be a Premier League team again next season having shown how best to navigate the Championship.

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By the time the current campaign comes to a close, Middlesbrough will have spent six years outside of the top-flight.

The 11 prior to that were spent among the Premier League elite, with League Cup success toasted in 2004 and the UEFA Cup final reached in 2006.

Those heady days probably feel like a lifetime ago for many of those in a loyal Riverside Stadium fan base.

The Boro fell agonisingly short of reaching the second-tier play-offs in 2011/12, but much of their time away from the Promised Land has seen them lost in mid-table obscurity.

That was the case last season, as they finished 12th, but Aitor Karanka has overseen a remarkable upturn in fortune which has Teesside dreaming again.

Middlesbrough sit third at present, but only one point off the summit, and have sent reigning Premier League champions Manchester City crashing out of the FA Cup in their own backyard.

There is now every chance that there will be three North East sides at the top table in 2015/16, with former Boro midfielder Ray Parlour of the opinion that his ex-employers have shown how best to negotiate the treacherous waters of the Championship.

The Carlsberg Fan Squad has teamed up with talkSPORT to launch a competition to find the People's Pundit. Fans are being asked to showcase their punditry skills in a video entry by swapping the terraces, pub or sofa for the chance to win their big break on talkSPORT. At a promotional event, Parlour told HITC Sport: “It was a brilliant result at the weekend (against City). Boro are absolutely flying. The way they are playing, they are a real attacking force now and they can defend as well. (Patrick) Bamford and Kike are doing the job for them and they have experience in midfield.

“That Championship is so difficult to pick who is going to go up automatically and who will make the play-offs. We have seen over the last few years that teams finishing strongly to make the play-offs come through well. At the moment, Boro are in a great position. They have to take it one game at a time.

“Steve Gibson has been brilliant for the club, he’s always stuck behind them. He deserves to be back in the Premier League. There is a lot of football to be played and you just hope that you keep players fit and pick up results when you need them. You never know what’s around the corner.”

Middlesbrough do appear to be ticking a lot of the promotion boxes at present.

They boast the meanest defence in the division, having conceded just 18 goals in 27 games, and have enough of a threat going the other way to suggest that momentum can be maintained.

As Parlour points out, they also have an owner in Gibson that will do all he can in the summer to ensure that Karanka has everything he needs to consolidate a standing back in the Premier League, should the Boro find themselves stepping back up the ladder in May.

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