We needed a draw at least to maintain hopes of a UEFA Cup spot last May but a 1-0 defeat took those hopes out of our hands and Middlesbrough went on to qualify by taking seventh spot in the Premiership.
SundayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s draw again underlined the mentality and strength of character of the squad as we came from 2-1 and 3-2 down to grab a point via MidoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s late header.
It was the sixth time weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve come from behind to either win or draw a match this season and weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve now gone five matches unbeaten since the 1-0 loss at Bolton in October, our only league loss in 13. Indeed, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve only lost two league games all season, one away Ã¢â‚¬â€ all points of optimism as we enter the Christmas and New Year period in fourth place.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Last season we needed a point at Middlesbrough and we couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do it,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Head Coach Martin.
I think weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve improved in certain areas and it shows
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We have a better mentality, a winning mentality. Last season we did well with 52 points but we needed players like Teemu Tainio, Paul Stalteri, Edgar Davids and Young-Pyo Lee - all winners.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We changed the back four as well and then we have Paul Robinson in goal, a great goalkeeper. I think we are getting better and better.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The inevitable question then asked by the media at the Riverside was MartinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s target for the rest of the season.
He responded: Ã¢â‚¬Å“At the start of the season we said maybe we can be champions and if we canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t manage that, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll aim to get into the Champions League and if we canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t manage that, hopefully weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll get into Europe - the main thing for us is to improve as a team and improve our football and then the results will come.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Back at the Riverside after SundayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 3-3 draw against Middlesbrough, Martin Jol reflected on our improvement since last seasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s European aims faltered at the same stadium in May.