Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka has urged his players to carry their momentum into the festive period, after securing top spot at Christmas.
Boro put in a convincing display to defeat Brighton & Hove Albion 3-0 on Saturday, ending the Seagulls' unbeaten start to the Sky Bet Championship campaign.
But the only thing that Karanka's side have achieved so far is Championship status for next season, the Spaniard joked, insisting there is still hard work ahead.
“At least we can say that next season we will at least be in the Championship, we have enough points for that," he said to mfc.co.uk
“It has been really difficult to get to this point and we have to keep going. This was a really good performance, but we have to keep going.
“After our defeat against Hull City in early November maybe people had doubts, but I said at the time and I say now it is impossible to go through the season without losing a game. Today [Saturday] was a big step, but the season ends in May. It was a really good example of how this league is.
"I think the changes I made from Tuesday was the key. I felt we were better and fitter, sharper, than them, they looked tired at times.
“When we scored the first goal I was expecting us to score the second. We did and then I felt we needed another, but we invited pressure. They (Brighton) hadn’t gone on that unbeaten run for no reason and it was important to get another."
Boro's quickfire games - on Boxing Day and next Monday - come against Blackburn Rovers and Sheffield Wednesday.