Ian Holloway has suggested that some players in the Middlesbrough squad are “stealing a living” and called for them to take some responsibility.
Boro have had a torrid start to the season and are currently 22nd in the Championship–in the relegation zone but only due to goal difference.
Jonathan Woodgate took charge of the club in the summer and has struggled in his first role as a manager.
Is Woodgate the right man for the Middlesbrough job?
The 39-year-old claimed that he wanted to bring attacking football back to the Riverside but has failed to deliver that so far–as his side are the lowest scorers in the Championship.
They face Derby County on Saturday, knowing that victory over the Rams could see them move out of the drop zone.
Derby have fared better than Boro but have in all honesty been underwhelming under new manager Phillip Cocu and currently sit 16th in the table.
Writing in his column for The Mirror, Holloway assessed the current issues at both clubs.
He said: “Both managers are under some pressure, but I would stick with them because I’ve been a manager.
“It’s not always managers at fault. Some of these players are absolutely stealing a living in my opinion. They’re shirking responsibility, and they’ve got to stand up and be counted.
“Senior players are no longer coveted like they should be. You’ve got to have leaders, but unfortunately, these days, a lot of managers have to find a way to deal with the fact they haven’t got any leaders.
“I’ve met both managers, and I’m really impressed with both of them, so I would suggest the players pull their fingers out because they’re not wearing that shirt with enough pride.”
He added: “Whatever your responsibility is, do it. If you’re a defender, start defending better. If you’re an attacker, start scoring better. Start wearing that shirt with pride and concentrate on doing your job.
“They’re two massive clubs, fantastically supported clubs, and they’re not where they want to be.
“I’m telling the players to start taking responsibility, earn the chance to stay a lot longer and stop hiding behind the fact their managers could be gone.”
Boro have not won since mid-September but have put in some impressive performances in recent weeks, particularly against West Bromwich Albion, Huddersfield Town and Fulham.
Woodgate may feel that a trip to Pride Park to face an inconsistent Derby side is the perfect opportunity for his team to claim their third Championship win of the season.
You can’t help but agree with some of what Holloway is saying here.
Boro finished seventh in the Championship last season and their squad is made up of much of the same players. Woodgate may be an inexperienced manager but he’s not receiving much help from his players at the moment.
He needs some of the senior players in his side to step up if he is going to turn around the Teessiders’ fortunes this season.