BEN GIBSON admits some frank words have been exchanged in the wake of Middlesbrough’s second-half collapse against Derby County last weekend, and the Boro skipper expects to see a strong reaction when his side return to action at Bristol City this evening.

The Teessiders slumped to a 3-0 home defeat last weekend as a succession of sloppy individual errors enabled Derby striker Matej Vydra to claim a hat-trick.

Garry Monk has held a series of no-holds-barred talks with his squad this week, in which he has spelled out just how costly his side’s mistakes have been this season.

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The Boro boss has demanded greater focus and concentration at Ashton Gate, but he was merely repeating what had already been said by his players in the immediate aftermath of last weekend’s game.

Sitting in the home dressing room at the Riverside, Gibson called for an honest assessment of where things were falling down. Some harsh truths were exchanged, enabling the Boro squad to draw a line under their latest setback and attempt to move on.

“We’re honest with each other in there,” said the Boro captain, who will be partnered by Dael Fry later today in the absence of the suspended Daniel Ayala. “You have to have that. I’m not going to say who says what, but people in there talk, of course they do.

“We set standards and we have leaders in there who demand certain standards and a certain level of play. Sometimes you don’t have to tell people when it’s obvious mistakes. You don’t have to tell people about some of the things that happened in the last game. But we have to demand more of each other, and that starts now.”

Monk encourages his players to take personal responsibility for their own actions, and was happy to see such a proactive response to last weekend’s capitulation.

The Boro boss does not feel wholesale changes are required, and is unlikely to make radical alterations to either his formation or personnel for tonight’s game. However, he has made sure his players are acutely aware that he will not tolerate a repeat.

“There was a lot of frustration and disappointment after that game (against Derby), and we’ve had some strong discussions that have reflected that,” said Monk. “We’ve tried to understand what happened in the game to make it go so wrong.

“There’s no hiding place when we have those talks, and no getting away from what went wrong. But as I’ve said before, we have a good group here. They are a responsible group, and they do feel the frustration as much as anyone. We all do.

“But you have to go through it, and try to turn it into a positive by showing them that the individual errors are really the only things that are holding us back. Defensively and offensively, there are a lot of things we are doing right. But we have to accept we have been doing things that are avoidable, and that has to change.”

Gibson accepts that individual mistakes have been at the root of Boro’s problems this season, with unenforced errors proving extremely costly.

The former England Under-21 international has not been immune to the issue, as his hurried back-pass last weekend put Randolph under pressure and helped bring about the air kick that led to Vydra’s hat-trick goal.

As Monk has pointed out, Boro’s general defensive work has been reasonably impressive this season. But as his skipper concedes, that counts for nothing if the opposition are being served up appetising opportunities on a plate.

“The most annoying thing is that no one is cutting us open,” said Gibson. “We thought we’d eradicated those silly mistakes, and bar the Leeds game, then recently we’ve been pretty solid. We thought that game (at Leeds) was just a blip, but then we had a massive step backwards (against Derby).

“We have to look at each other and make sure we’re getting more out of each other. We all have to go and look at ourselves in the mirror and ask a few tough questions. It’s not acceptable, and we’re left angry and disappointed.

“If teams are beating us by world-class goals or playing through us, then we’d take our hat off to them and say well done. But teams are beating us because of our mistakes – we’re beating ourselves. That’s not acceptable and we have to put that right. If we are going to achieve anything this season, that has to stop.”