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Mowbray vows to fight on despite supporters' calls
TONY MOWBRAY had vowed to fight on despite Saturday’s defeat to bottom club Barnsley leaving his position as Middlesbrough manager extremely vulnerable.
When Boro walked off 3-0 down at the break to a side that hadn’t won since August 31, the 2000-strong away support made their feelings perfectly clear to Mowbray, first booing their players and manager off before chants of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” were aimed at the Boro boss.
It was the first time an anti-Mowbray chant has been audible and it appears the frustrations that have been simmering away for a while among supporters have finally reached boiling point after a dismal run of two wins in their opening 12 games this season.
The result at Oakwell leaves the Teessiders ten points off the top six in 16th place and only a four point cushion now separates them from the bottom three.
The manner in which Boro allowed their struggling opponents to take control was worrying and with chairman Steve Gibson, chief executive Neil Bausor and non-executive director Keith Lamb present to see the fans’ reactions at half-time, the pressure is now firmly on Mowbray.
Gibson, who has a track record of backing his managers during adverse times, must now decide whether to give the man he felt could lead the club back to the Premier League more time or whether it is simply time for a fresh approach.
Since his arrival three years ago, Mowbray has had the patience of the fans while he embarked on an extreme overhaul in a bid to fix the club following Gordon Strachan’s costly reign, but that patience is wearing thin and for the first time there is a clear split on Teesside as to whether he is the right man for the job.
In his post-match press duties at Oakwell, the Boro boss cut a forlorn figure and appeared visibly upset at the events from the 90 minutes before.
However, despite calls for him to go Mowbray insists he will pick himself up for Friday’s televised game against Doncaster Rovers at the Riverside.
“I can understand their frustrations,” Mowbray said. “They’re from Teesside, they’re passionate about their football. I’m from Teesside and I’m passionate about my football, and when your team is three-nil down what do you want them to do?
“It’s alright. I’m from where they’re from so I feel their frustration and I feel their annoyance.
“I’ve talked before about the modern era and social media. It’s a platform for people to express their opinion and that’s the world football managers live it. That’s okay. I live with that every day.
“It’s not about the individual, it’s about whether we feel we are moving in the right direction and that’s not just me, that’s the owner, the supporters. There was some positive and some negative (chants) but I don’t think there’s a football manager in the world that’s got total support.
“All I can say is it’s not through a lack of desire to find answers. I work pretty hard and feel as if the team are very much behind what we are trying to do.
“People who don’t know the job. You’ve got to pick yourself up whether it’s this game or another game and as a football manager that leads his team, I don’t think people will understand the feeling unless you’ve ever done it.
“Can you pick yourself up? You have to because every game you lose feels as bad as the last defeat, but you have to keep going and prepare for the next one and the players are the same as the manager. It’s football and you have to accept it and deal with it.”
Boro’s defensive frailties were highlighted in the opening 45 minutes when they first allowed Paddy McCourt to dance through a group of defenders to give Barnsley the lead before a lack of closing down allowed Jim O’Brien time to get an effort in on goal that deflected past Steele.
A rash challenge from young defender Ben Gibson lead to Chris O’Grady’s penalty, and despite a spirited late fight-back Boro were ultimately punished for their earlier actions.
With Rhys Williams not quite match fit and Jonathan Woodgate forced to pull out on the game on Friday, Seb Hines started his first game in seven months and Boro’s lack of experienced defensive cover was obvious for all to see.
Mowbray has been trying to bring in some reinforcements through the loan market and admits addressing the amount of goals conceded will be crucial in his bid to turn Boro’s fortunes around.
He said: “No one is disguising what the team is. No one said we were ever going to run away with this league. It was always going to be tough and yet we came and expected to get a result.
“It’s not for me to stand here and give excuses. We had opportunities but you have to keep the ball out of the net. We have to find an answer to the goals going in. We have to try and address that.”
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