MIDDLESBROUGH manager Tony Pulis has bemoaned the number of times Championship teams have to play midweek fixtures as an explanation for a drop in performance levels.

Boro had to settle for a point against Swansea City at the Riverside Stadium this afternoon when they struggled to break down the visitors.

The point still lifted them level with leaders Leeds United at the top of the table but Middlesbrough struggled to hit the heights in terms of performance that had seen them win their previous four on home turf.

Pulis, whose side beat Bolton on Tuesday, said: “Where we as brightly and sparkly? I am not sure. I was last in the Championship working 11 years ago, you look at it now and there are more quality players, playing in better stadiums, the pitches are better, the quality is better, and there are better players who are playing international football.

“And yet we are asked to play eight more games than the Premier League, there’s more Premier League players playing international football, but someone has to look at it. To ask players to play Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday … you look at the top teams, you ask their managers if there’s a little tiredness in there.

“This league has pushed on, it is better in every way shape or form, but to ask them to play eight games extra, it’s a lot of games compared to the Premier League.

“We have had the opportunities and chances again here, you need that spark in the final third to get what we needed. We had the chances in first half and second half, we needed a break.

“Swansea defended ever so well from set plays. When things do go our way in the final third we win games, but when they don’t … that’s where games are won and lost.”

Swansea manager Graham Potter was more satisfied with the outcome.

He said: “I’m delighted with the point, I think the stats will tell you it is not an easy place to come against the experience in a side managed by Tony Pulis, it is not easy.

“They have good players, a good manager, I thought we started well first 25 minutes and they adjusted their shape a bit. It was a real test of character and I thought we did it really well, we earned that.

“I still think we can play better, we are not satisfied with aspects of our performance and that’s the next stage for us, the challenge.

“I don’t really care too much about Middlesbrough, we can grow a lot though. You can see why it is tough to play here, but our challenge is can we improve aspects of our performance on the back of showing this spirit. I was in the stand last time Swansea played Middlesbrough and there wasn’t the same spirit.”