Middlesbrough v Cardiff City - Neil Warnock hoping to end Boro’s ‘appalling’ Riverside record

A MASTER of kidology and someone who never misses a trick, few can mix it like Neil Warnock.

Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock Picture: David Davies/PA
Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock Picture: David Davies/PA

The Middlesbrough manager’s assertion early in his tenure that his Boro side lacked a single natural leader was a striking one and given that his side have won three matches out of four on their travels to put them on the brink of Championship safety, it appears that some wanted to emerge from the shadows.

Warnock’s other bone of contention has been Boro’s awful home form, with the Teessiders forgiven for wishing that they could be on the travels for the remainder of the season given the disparity between their home and away statistics in 2020.

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Boro’s last six wins have all arrived on the road, with the arrival of Warnock’s former club, who occupy sixth place and will confirm a play-off spot with a game to spare if they win and Swansea City and Millwall appearing untimely.

More especially given Boro have lost five of their past six home outings.

The 71-year-old, whose side need a point to be mathematically sure of Championship football in 2020-21 – although 50 points could yet be enough – readily admits that he is not looking forward to the arrival of his old employers, who have won three of their past four away matches.

Within that, there is a little bit of a psychological message to his players ahead of Boro’s final home fixture of the campaign.

On whether he is relishing facing Cardiff, he said: “Not really no, not when I know how good they are and we have not won at home. They are strong, solid players and good lads as well.

BAD RUN: Middlesbrough have struggled at the Riverside Stadium. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA

“We are hoping that we can play two games in succession and we want another performance.

“We play well in one match then terrible in another.

“Having not won at home in 2020 is appalling really. We want to try to give them a game.”

Regardless of the result at the Riverside today, Boro’s safety will be assured if Hull and Luton draw their fixture at the KCOM Stadium and only a freakish run of results are likely to now send the Teessiders down, even if that remote prospect is not quite yet extinguished.

It represents a source of relief to Warnock, although he plainly wants more, with Boro’s lack of ruthlessness at both ends of the pitch in home defeats to QPR and Bristol City not sitting well with him.

As for Boro being on the brink of safety, Warnock, whose future will be determined once the club’s fate is officially determined, continued: “It is something I knew two or three weeks ago it would be really difficult.

“Getting three away wins was fantastic, I did not think we could do that, especially with our home form.

“I think the players will give everything – whether that will be good enough on Saturday, we will find out.

“I cannot fault the effort of the players.

“But goals win games and we have had good opportunities and not taken them.”

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