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Woodgate fires a warning shot to Boro
10:52am Monday 11th March 2013 in Sport
Final Score: Bristol City 2 Middlesbrough 0
JONATHAN WOODGATE has called for Middlesbrough’s confidence-drained players to refocus for the Championship run-in by proving to themselves that they still have the quality to deliver much-needed results in the promotion race.
With nine matches remaining Boro have slipped to ninth after losing for the ninth time in 12 matches at Bristol City and manager Tony Mowbray must lift his squad ahead of Saturday’s visit of struggling Birmingham City.
Mowbray, whose side failed to create anything of note at Ashton Gate during the 2-0 defeat, has suggested Middlesbrough need to win at least six of their remaining fixtures to stand any chance of finishing in a play-off spot.
But for that to happen a frank-talking Woodgate believes that over the next five days there needs to be improved concentration in the dressing room if this season is going to end on a high.
The experienced former Leeds United centre-back has become frustrated at the way Middlesbrough have dropped out of contention for an automatic promotion place – something they still hoped for as recently in January.
“We had it in our hands, that’s the most disappointing thing because we had it in our hands, it was there for us,” said Woodgate.
“We have let it slip and we have to try to make up for that. The players have let the foot off the gas and think they are better than they are.
Maybe that’s what it is.
Maybe people think they are too good to graft and whatever.
“These are just examples of what it could be but we have to get to the bottom of it. It’s like two different teams to the first half of the season.
It’s just disappointing.”
Once again Middlesbrough’s preparations for the trip to Bristol City were hampered by injury problems.
Josh McEachran and Faris Haroun were missing through illness while Sammy Ameobi and Grant Leadbitter had hamstring complaints.
It is hoped all four players will be available for the visit of Birmingham, but Woodgate is keen to avoid using the absentees as a reason for Middlesbrough’s recent failings.
“At the moment we are just really inconsistent and it’s not great,” said Woodgate, clearly hurt by the manner of the performance and defeat in Bristol just days after a dramatic late loss at Huddersfield Town.
“It hasn’t deteriorated week in and week out. It’s not getting worse. It’s just staying on a level.
“We are the players and we want to win. It’s horrible in the dressing room when you lose. No one likes it. Everyone hates losing. You just have to stay confident and wait for something to happen.
“You just hope all the players are thinking the same as you are thinking – staying strong, resolute and determined to show courage.
“I thought the win over Leeds and then Cardiff would be the spark for us. It wasn’t to be.
“We will have to sort something out and really knuckle down.
“We say this week in and week out. It was just rubbish.
It was horrible.” Both Mowbray and Woodgate, one of Middlesbrough’s better players on Saturday, admitted afterwards that many of the team’s problems are down to the number of players lacking self-belief.
Woodgate said: “Some of the lads are low on confidence but you have to find it from somewhere. You have to remember you are in the team because you are a good footballer.
We all have to remember that.”
Mowbray, satisfied with certain elements of his team’s display, said: “Confidence is a human emotion.
You can start off on the front foot and we started off on the front foot, had the ball and had every intention of scoring the first goal against a team struggling.”
The Middlesbrough boss was keen to avoid blaming yet more injuries for the latest defeat, despite also losing left-back George Friend to another hamstring problem at half-time.
He said: “George was another injury, along with a few who didn’t travel, like Sammy (Ameobi), Grant (Leadbitter), Faris (Haroun) and Josh (McEachran). But I don’t think they are the reasons for this defeat.
“I’m conscious of criticising individuals. There were players who didn’t cause problems like they can do. A few things didn’t go for a few players out there in the final third.”