GARRY MONK’S position as Middlesbrough manager is coming under increased pressure after his expensively-assembled side crashed to a third defeat in the space of four games, writes Rob Stewart.

Boro’s 2-1 loss at Bristol City leaves them six points adrift of the play-offs and a mammoth 14 points off the automatic promotion spots.

Monk spent more than £40m on new signings in the summer, but his team have struggled to gel and questions are being asked of his ability to get the season back on track.

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Steve Gibson has a reputation for being extremely supportive of his managers, but having pledged to “smash the Championship” after Boro were relegated from the Premier League last season, the chairman will hardly be satisfied with his side’s record.

Boro return to action with a home game against Ipswich Town on Saturday, and Monk will be hoping for a much better performance than the one his players produced at Ashton Gate on Saturday, when Bristol City match-winner Jamie Paterson felt the Teessiders were guilty of complacency.

Paterson rubbed salt into the wounds after Monk decided to publicly apologise to the 981 travelling supporters who watched Boro’s seventh league defeat of the season.

Paterson spoke out after his 54th-minute strike sent the hosts up to third in the Championship table and dropped Boro down to ninth position.

The Bristol City striker believes Boro might have paid the penalty for under-estimating the quality of the opposition, and also questioned their desire to win in the Championship after falling out of the Premier League.

“When they’re getting relegated out of the Premier League they might be thinking it’s going to be a walk in the park,” said Paterson. “But you’ve got a lot of hungry people down here who want to play in the Premier League.

“If a team outruns you then you’re always going to be struggling and that’s what we want to do to those sorts of teams. 

“Maybe they’re surprised by our honesty and work-rate which are really powerful.

“If you have everyone pointing in the right direction and there are no bad eggs around the club and not one person putting a hole in the ship, that always helps.”

 Boro slumped to a third defeat in four outings following a dismal display against promotion rivals who took the lead through Joe Bryan. Paterson doubled the advantage before Hordur Magnusson’s comic own-goal gave Boro hope.

Paterson was surprised how meekly Boro surrendered and how little threat his £15m former Nottingham Forest teammate Britt Assombalonga posed.

“I think they spent £40m on their front four and we spent £5m, but I always had confidence in us not conceding a goal,” Paterson said.

“That’s saying something because I’ve played with Britt at Forest and he’s one of the best strikers in the league.

“He’s one of the cleverest forwards around, he’s an out-and-out goalscorer, he holds up the ball well, he’s quick and I just think he wouldn't want to play against our back four again.

“They had him but still you could see that only threat I felt they had was that (Adama) Traore fella who was quite bright. But I can’t remember them having any clear-cut chances.

“I’d like to think we were hungrier than them. Before the game if anyone was a hungrier team than us I would be surprised because everyone wants to work 100 or 110 per cent for the gaffer.

“I don’t think they really troubled us in the last ten. We were camped in but we work on those situations in training all the time so I didn’t feel uncomfortable. I don’t think even they had a chance really.”