GARRY MONK insists he is not concerned about the growing speculation about his position as Middlesbrough manager – but admits his team have to start producing markedly improved performances if they are turn their season around.

Monk’s position has been called into question after Boro suffered back-to-back defeats to Derby County and Bristol City that have left them six points adrift of the play-off places.

He retains the support of the Middlesbrough hierarchy, although Saturday’s home game with Ipswich Town will clearly play a major role in determining his future.

He understands the mounting frustration at Boro’s performances so far this season, but is adamant he will be worrying about questions over his personal position.

“It’s not a focus for me,” said Monk. “You know as a manager if you’re winning games it’s great, if you’re not winning games, criticism comes. But that has never been my focus.

“I look at my job to help the players, and make sure we all come through a difficult period strong. What goes on outside is not in my control or focus, but we’re all fully aware that we need to start winning games.”

Monk was bitterly disappointed with his side’s display as they lost 2-1 at Bristol City last weekend, and accepts the club’s current position of ninth is simply not good enough given that achieving automatic promotion was the stated ambition at the start of the season.

He is confident his players will produce a positive reaction at the weekend though, and insists the objectives for the campaign have not changed.

“There’s no getting around it – it’s been a disappointing last couple of weeks,” said Monk. “There are no excuses, but as a manager and as players you know there’s only way to respond and that’s by winning games.

“That’s the only way you can get back on track and get some momentum going. It’s been difficult, but we’ve had good discussions and some good work. I’m confident we have what we need in this group to respond.

“When you’re not winning games or performing how you want to perform, frustration comes. Quite rightly so. You feel that hurt yourself, as do the players.

“But the only response is to win games. We need to give our fans what they deserve. They deserve better. The reaction needs to happen as soon as possible, but I’m confident in this group.”

There are no new injury problems for Monk to contend with ahead of Saturday’s game, although it remains to be seen whether Grant Leadbitter returns to the squad after he was axed from the match-day 18 for the trip to Ashton Gate.