SUCH are the high expectations at Middlesbrough this season, a failure to win either of their two home games inside a week has plenty of fans worried.

Given the manner of Saturday’s display against Brentford, it is little wonder. Performances like the one that saw them almost lose for the second game in a row at the Riverside will not get them promoted.

Quite rightly there is an acceptance that time is required for Garry Monk’s way of working to reap rewards, particularly given the number of changes to personnel since the fall out of the Premier League.

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But once this international break is over, and Monk has had another couple of weeks on the training ground to work on the problems he has encountered, then Middlesbrough could do with finding higher gears as Christmas approaches.

The point claimed from the six available from the home dates with Norwich and Brentford in the last week have left Middlesbrough four shy of the play-off zone and eight adrift of leaders Cardiff.

With 35 matches remaining, there is no reason to panic and Monk is not even thinking about the position of his team – remaining confident things will eventually click and Middlesbrough will become a real force in the promotion mix.

Monk said: “The position we are in, it’s like with Leeds last season, is that you are coming in and working from scratch. It takes time, and we are working as fast and as quickly as possible. The players are working like that too.

“You need to trust in the process. At this moment in time we have to realise that things what should be in our control we are not really controlling right. In certain periods of the game we need to make sure we are controlling things, that’s what we will be doing during the international break.

“Those are the next steps. You can win a lot of games, but you can’t always spend a prolonged period on the training field on certain things because of the games you play. We will be using this break to help with that.

“There’s no point thinking of the gaps in the table at this moment in time. There’s a long way to go, a hell of a lot of football to be played. It’s one loss in nine, we have to remember that.

“If you were to give me another one loss in nine in the coming games then I would take it. We will work hard over the next two weeks to try to get that. We have a good team, a team that is trying to grow.”

That is where Middlesbrough are. They have shown plenty in their 11 matches to suggest they will be in the thick of things at the top end of the Championship, but to achieve that they will have to address the problems holding them back.

Saturday’s performance was the worst so far under Monk. For the first 45 minutes they look disjointed and there were times when players struggled to keep the ball.

Adama Traore and Marvin Johnson, who have become key players on the wing, struggled to make an impact and both were withdrawn early. Neither hit the heights they have in previous matches.

Leading scorer Britt Assombalonga never looked like adding to his five goal haul, while a new-look backline looked at times every bit as if it had not played together at the back before. Too frequently Monk is having to effectively put four strikers on the pitch to try to save the game.

Brentford, struggling at the wrong end of the division, looked a much better team than what their lowly position suggests and deservedly took the lead – and can count themselves unfortunate not to have won it.

The Bees took the lead in the 29th minute when Ollie Watkins floated over a free-kick and defender Yoann Barbet, the tallest player on the pitch, was allowed to jump unmarked in the middle of the penalty area to nod beyond Darren Randolph.

Dean Smith’s side looked the most likely to add to that before the break, but it was Middlesbrough who levelled in the 68th minute when the lively Martin Braithwaite volleyed in at the back post after the visitors failed to deal with a free-kick into the box.

Middlesbrough conceded another cheap goal four minutes later. Fabio left Kamohelo Mokotjo in loads of space on the right to centre low inside the area where Watkins arrived to beat Randolph.

Middlesbrough, who have come from behind to claim at least a point in three of their last four matches, fought back again to level when Fabio slotted in a loose ball across the six yard box; at the end of a move started by Jonny Howson’s strong run.

Monk, knowing both sides had strong penalty claims waved away, said: “The intention of the players is clear, they want to go and do the right things, strangely I sense a bit of anxiety in them.

“It led to certain mistakes with the ball, the goals we conceded were from our own doing. A set piece for the first, probably the first we have conceded from a set piece. You can’t make those mistakes, we put ourselves on the back foot again.

“Credit to them getting back into it again and maybe we could have even nicked a winner again. Perspective though because we have lost one in nine. Yes, we want more, yes we want more from the performance, but we have lost one in nine. We have to remember that.”