MIDDLESBROUGH’S relegation worries intensified as they slumped to a 3-1 defeat at home to Bristol City at the weekend.

Nakhi Wells scored twice, with Jamie Paterson also finding the target, as the Robins surged into a three-goal lead, with Britt Assombalonga’s late strike for Boro little more than a consolation.

What were the main debating points as Neil Warnock’s once again failed to get back to winning ways at the Riverside?


On Saturday morning, it was announced that former Middlesbrough manager Jack Charlton had died at the age of 85. A few hours later, and it was a real shame that Boro had to take on Bristol City behind-closed-doors. Had supporters been present at the Riverside, the afternoon would have been a emotional celebration of Charlton’s life.

There was still the odd poignant touch, with a homemade pendant paying tribute to ‘Big Jack’ having been tied to the old Ayresome Park gates and the players and staff from both clubs staging a minute’s applause before kick-off.

A social media campaign asked supporters watching the game at home to raise a glass in Charlton’s honour in the 85th minute. Even so, it felt a real shame that Boro fans weren’t able to pay a proper tribute to a man who did so much to change the history of their club.



When Tony Pulis was in charge, Ryan Shotton was encouraged to hurl a succession of long balls into the opposition box. Under Neil Warnock, the centre-half is back with a ball and a towel in his hand.

Shotton flung a succession of long throws into the box in the first half of Saturday’s game in particular, and the ploy almost paid off, with George Saville getting his head onto one of them to fashion the goalbound effort that Daniel Bentley tipped onto the crossbar.

“I think we should get more goals from set-pieces,” said Warnock.  We were unlucky with the header, it was a great save.”


What should Warnock do with Patrick Roberts in the remaining three games? At Millwall, Boro looked much more solid without the Manchester City loanee on the pitch. On Saturday, however, his absence merely accentuated the lack of creativity in the rest of the team.

Boro only really looked a threat when Roberts started surging down the right in the second half, but while the winger troubled the Bristol City defence on occasion, his lack of end product was again an issue.

He wasted a good opportunity by hesitating far too long before getting a shot away, and spurned another good opening by trying to go past one man too many. On his day, he looks capable of being a match-winner. The big question, however, is when or if that day will come.


Warnock is clearly uncertain about his ideal midfield mix. What appears to be evident, however, is that neither Harold Moukoudi nor Ravel Morrison will be filling a central-midfield role in the remaining three games.

They were both played as central midfielders in the home game against QPR, but the ploy was abandoned before the final whistle with Moukoudi looking out of place as a holding midfielder and Morrison offering nothing in a more creative role.

On Saturday, Morrison was an unused substitute while Moukoudi was not even in the squad. Whatever changes Warnock decides to make against Reading, Cardiff or Sheffield Wednesday, it is unlikely that either will be playing a prominent role.


Despite their latest setback on home soil, Middlesbrough emerged from the weekend with the survival hopes largely undented. With three games to go, they remain two points clear of the drop zone.

Huddersfield remain a place below them, having lost at home to Luton on Friday night. That was a good result for Boro, although Luton’s win means they are now just two points off safety and can no longer be written off.

Hull’s home defeat to Millwall on Saturday was another positive result from a Boro perspective, keeping the Tigers in the bottom three. To complete a reasonable weekend elsewhere, Barnsley’s goalless draw with Wigan meant neither of those sides were able to make much of a move towards safety.