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Miniboro answers our questions about Middlesbrough

You may recognize the artwork of Steve Welsh. He's done artwork for the Champions League, World Cup, FourFourTwo, Adidas, and more. You can browse and buy prints at his website. He's also a Middlesbrough supporter. He was kind enough to sit down and answer our questions.

Gareth Copley

Three wins in a row for Fulham, but this might be the most difficult test as the boys need to travel to a very tough Middlesbrough side.

Cottagers Confidential: Middlesbrough and Fulham actually have quite a bit in common. Founded at a similar time, both bounced around mainly the top two division. Both had issues that could have destroyed the club. Both had long uninterrupted runs in the Premier League before being relegated. Both clubs improbably made it to and lost European cup finals to Spanish sides. That being said, Fulham supporters feel that Fulham should be back in the Premier League sooner rather than later. What are the expectations of Middlesbrough fans and where do you see them ending up this season?

Steve Welsh: Most Middlesbrough fans are hoping for the play-offs this season, but that's been the same for a few seasons now. In all honesty we've been treading water in the Championship for far too long but as the cliche goes its a very difficult division to get out of. We honestly thought we'd have been out of here by now, but then so did Forest, Birmingham, Leeds, Derby, Blackburn, Bolton. However, there does seem to be a real shift this season a renewed sense of purpose and direction. The club has a much more structured feel to it and that's being reflected in our playing style too. It's the most optimistic I've felt about the team for a long time, and I think that shows in our away support (4k+ at Huddersfield for example). I do think this could be our year, Steve Gibson has backed us again in the transfer market and I cant fault the boss so far.

CC: Tell me about Aitor Karanka. He has a pretty decorated playing career, but as a manager he's mostly unknown to me as this is his first job in charge of a club. The only things I really know about him are seeing him appear for a few times for the Colorado Rapids. What kind of system does he run and what is his style? I know he's a former Mourinho assistant, should we expect something similar?

SW: A lot of people understandably point to the Mourinho connection but he's definitely his own man. One thing he certainly wont do is 'park the bus'. The side is disciplined but certainly not in a negative way, I think if you watched our game vs Liverpool the other night, that is the benchmark for the style and tempo he wants to see. He might not be 100% sure yet of his preferred starting 11 as we had players who came in during the transfer window, but he has the tactical awareness and personnel available to change games now, to adapt, which quite frankly we've been lacking in recent years.

CC: I have to confess I haven't seen Middlesbrough play since they were in the Premier League. Being in the USA, it can be very hard to see games from the Championship. Are there any players Fulham fans should be on the look out for? Conversely, is there anyone on this Fulham squad that frightens you?

SW: Grant Leadbitter is having a storming season for us, if he shapes up to shoot from anywhere up to 40yrds out don't say I didnt warn you :) As for Fulham, Ross McCormack is the obvious name that stands out, especially after his incessant flirting with Boro in the transfer market before finally staying with Leeds last year. I'll probably have a quid on him to score against us to be honest