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Cup the catalyst - JJ

Jermaine Jenas pinpoints the Carling Cup Final as the springboard to our impressive end to last season.

Jermaine Jenas pinpoints the Carling Cup Final as the springboard to our impressive end to last season.

We lost just three times - including United and Liverpool away - in the Premier League after the heartbreaking defeat on penalties against Manchester United at Wembley on March 1.

That run started with one of the best performances of the campaign just three days later as we beat Middlesbrough 4-0 at the Lane.

We went into that key fixture just two points ahead of Middlesbrough - and two points off the relegation zone - before a sequence of three defeats in 12 took us up to a final position of eighth.

Midfielder JJ feels a lot of the confidence of the final three months of the campaign stemmed from that performance, albeit a losing one, at Wembley.

"I thought that was the catalyst that inspired the good run and our climb up the league table," he reflected. "We put in a good performance that day, even though we came off second best in a penalty shoot-out.

"We then had that massive game on the Wednesday night against Middlesbrough.

"We were only a couple of points apart at the time, it was very close, but we went out there knowing we needed to get back to winning ways.

"We put on a great performance and never really looked back from that point."