At Middlesbrough, a look ahead to January and ambition

Well, I think it's fair to say that nobody wanted that result against Brentford and I think it's fair to say that the media have it right, we're very much in a slump at the moment.

There is a chance to put it right today and to go into 2018 in a positive frame of mind and with recent changes at Middlesbrough, it's as good a time as ever.

And while the game is important, I think a lot of supporters are also thinking about what is going to happen next month in the transfer window. It's not often I actively promote going out to get new players, but I think it's very important that the Club act quickly in January this time.

Basically there needs to be a lift. Yes, Terry is coming back and I think that will be positive, but we need someone a little further up the pitch and someone with Championship experience and success.

Time is the important factor when it comes to January. If the Club hold any ambitions in getting promoted, they need to spend money and spend it quickly. And don't let anyone tell you that FFP is an issue. FPP is an excuse.

At Middlesbrough

So today is when it starts. Interestingly and the reason for this is probably known by others, there is no pre-match video on the Club YouTube channel, so I can't listen to the manager telling us who is available or not. So that also means I have no idea if Terry is available and I think if he was and he was ready, that bit of positive news could help a great deal today.

And the match is on AVTV, so if you live overseas, you'll be happy or if you've managed to sign up using a service from within the UK, you'll be happy too. I'll be taking a break from my weekend activities at about thirty minutes before kick-off and settling down with a bottle of red and some real optimism.

We're very close to me writing we need to win this match. That's how important today is.

Match facts from the BBC

  • This is the first league meeting between these sides at the Riverside since May 2009 in the Premier League - Boro are winless in four home league meetings with Villa.
  • Villa failed to score in two home matches against Middlesbrough inside a week in September (0-0 in the Championship, 0-2 in the League Cup).
  • Tony Pulis has never lost a home league match against Steve Bruce, keeping five clean sheets in those six games.
  • Steve Bruce has managed nine league matches at the Riverside and not recorded a single victory. No side of his has scored in any of his last six league visits, since an Emile Heskey goal for Birmingham in September 2004.
  • Since the start of last season, Britt Assombalonga has scored more goals in the Championship (26) than any other player currently playing in the competition.