Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate has issued a strong message to his players after witnessing his side crash out of the Carabao Cup on penalties to League Two outfit Crewe Alexandra.
The 39-year-old has still yet to win a competitive fixture with the Smoggies having taken over at the Riverside Stadium from Tony Pulis earlier this summer.
Boro were poor from the very outset on Tuesday with lacklustre defending allowing Crewe to take a two-goal lead courtesy of strikes from Chris Porter and Charlie Kirk.
With just 45 minutes of football left to recover the situation, Woodgate decided to bring on Britt Assombalonga, Paddy McNair and Ashley Fletcher with the latter of the trio pulling a goal back in the 75th minute before Marc Bola equalised in stoppage time.
Not to be dispirited by Boro’s comeback, Crewe emerged victorious on penalties as they scored four of their five spot-kicks, whilst the hosts only managed to hit the target on two occasions in the shoot-out.
Speaking to the Hartlepool Mail about his side’s defeat, Woodgate said: ” [It was a] Terrible performance.
“Not what I want from my teams but like I’ve said before we are thin on the ground.
“Getting beat 2-0 at home (at half-time), I told my players before the game if you don’t turn up in any game you’ll get done an we didn’t deserve to win the game.
“I’ll take a couple of pluses from Ashley Fletcher’s performance second half, Paddy McNair, Nathan Wood but apart from that, not good at all.
“We were really sloppy from the start, really, really sloppy.
“It was a chance for players to stake a claim in the team and they haven’t done that.
“If players’ standards drop that’s why you’re getting beat 2-0 at half-time when they think they’re doing okay and some think they can do what they want that’s what happened with the first-half performance.”
Whereas making ten changes to his side for the showdown with Crewe was unquestionably a risky decision for Woodgate to make, he would have had confidence in the abilities of those selected and so this result will be hard for him to take.
With Boro currently languishing in 18th place in the Championship, it is glaringly clear that they are in desperate need of a win in order to kick-start their season.
However, if the Smoggies cannot display a marked improvement on Saturday when they face Blackburn Rovers, the likelihood of them leaving Ewood Park with all three points is very slim.
Although it would be naive to suggest that Woodgate’s job is already at threat, if his Boro side continue to perform below-par over the coming months, questions may soon be asked about his suitability for this particular role.Like what the FLW have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!