Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock says three Middlesbrough players who produced below par performances in his side’s defeat at Coventry last Saturday, had missed scheduled pre-match meals ahead of the game.
Goals from Viktor Gyokeres and Martyn Waghorn secured a 2-0 win for Coventry over ‘Boro at the CBS Arena last weekend, with several members of Warnock’s side producing underwhelming performances in that match.
Now, it seems Warnock believes that the absence of three of his squad’s players from two of their four scheduled pre-match meals contributed to their poor individual showings against the Sky Blues.
Speaking about the performance of certain individuals in that defeat, Warnock was quoted by The Northern Echo as saying: “I thought three players let me down, and I knew there was something wrong with them. I knew before the game that one of them wasn’t right.
“I know it sounds daft, but I could tell by looking into his eyes. Then within the first ten minutes of the game, I knew that the other two weren’t on their game either.”
Explaining how he thinks missing meals affected those players against Coventry, the ‘Boro boss added: “We had to look at it, and we’ve been looking at their eating patterns when they’re away.
“We got to the hotel, and they eat at six o’clock at night, but then we have snacks for them at nine o’clock too. We’re down for breakfast the following morning, then we have a pre-match meal.
“I found out that some of the lads were having their meal, but then they weren’t coming down for a snack, then they didn’t want to get up for breakfast, so they missed that too. So, they hadn’t eaten between six o’clock and midday the next day.”
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However, it seems Warnock is confident that will not happen again again, as he went on to claim: “If you’re doing that as a footballer, you’re going to be a bit weak, so they’ve got to look at it a bit more professionally. To be fair, I think that’s what they’ve done now, since I found out all these little habits.
“They’re not bad players, so there’s got to be something that knocks them off a bit, and on Saturday at Coventry, I didn’t recognise three of them.”
‘Boro did respond to that defeat at Coventry with a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest in midweek, and go into their clash with Blackpool 11th in the Championship table, with nine points from seven games so far.
This does go to show how important the right preparation is for a footballer ahead of a game.
It was a frustrating result for ‘Boro at Coventry last Saturday, particularly given it seems to have been at least in part, self-inflicted.
The fact that Warnock feels the players who were below par are the ones who missed those meals, just goes to highlight how crucial taking the right approach both on and off the pitch is for players.
However, the win at Forest the following midweek will have helped to rectify things, and they will be looking to continue that against Blackpool this weekend, to ensure they do not get left behind early on in the race for a top six spot.