A wasted season. Those were the words of Tony Mowbray today, as he prepared potentially to take Middlesbrough to the semi-final of a major domestic cup competition for the first time since 2006. He was talking priorities. His is still to take Boro into the Premier League. Tonight there can be a reminder that he has breathed life into his hometown club, when they travel to Swansea for a quarter-final of the Capital One Cup.
For Mowbray, who took over a club in serious trouble two years ago, the main aim remains a different division, with his side third in the Championship, three points off an automatic promotion place.
"Our main target is to win league matches," he said. "Whilst it's nice to have a run in a cup competition, get the plaudits and potentially get to a semi-final, televised games and heighten the profile of your club, the bottom line come May is, if you don't finish in the top two or the top six, giving yourselves a chance, it's a wasted season.
"For the club, the ambition we have got is to try to get back there as quickly as we can. When you are this close in a cup competition, you don't pick weakened teams, you pick your best team or your strongest team available to go and try to win, but I am still very, very conscious of the preparation for Saturday [at home to Wolves], which is why we are staying over rather than getting back at 5am so the players can get a decent night's sleep.
"I'm not that sentimental," Mowbray added. "Who were last year's semi-finalists? It doesn't matter. It matters when you stick your name on a trophy, then we could say what we had achieved.
"I have to say this Swansea team is a pretty special football team with the ball, they are very, very good. To go to the Emirates and win 2-0 and outpass Arsenal as they did is quite a feat, so we have total respect for what they do. I am sure Swansea are pretty odds-on favourites to get through."
Referee L Probert (South Gloucestershire)
Odds Swansea 4-6 Draw 11-4 Middlesbrough 9-2Reuse content