Middlesbrough v Stoke City - It’s now ‘hit or miss’ time says Neil Warnock

AS forthright as ever, Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock admits he has had a rotten week.

Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock.
Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock.

Incandescent with rage at the performance of referee Gavin Ward after last weekend’s hugely controversial loss at Swansea City, the news that key defender Anfernee Dijksteel – injured in an off-the-ball incident not seen by the officials – will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery has compounded matters for the Sheffielder.

An FA charge for the club for allegedly failing to ensure that players and/or club officials conducted themselves in an orderly fashion at the Liberty Stadium has added to his chagrin.

After all that, Boro now focus again on the football and a run of three games which will pretty much decide whether their season is still ‘live’ as a competitive entity after the international break or not.

Put simply, it is crunch time in terms of the club’s play-off prospects.

Warnock said: “It has not really been (a good week) if I am honest. When you wake up in the middle of the night thinking of the referee and the decisions at Swansea and penalties and no points and Dael Fry and Dijksteel, it is very difficult to get back to sleep.

“So I have not enjoyed this week at all. They are a good group of lads and are all disappointed themselves.

“I think with this next week, that is it now. I think it is ‘hit or miss’ now. If we don’t get the points in the next three games, then we have got to start looking at giving one or two people a day to see how they are between now and the end of the season.”

Alongside Boro, Stoke are pretty much in the same boat and need wins to keep their fleeting top-six hopes alive.

A flashpoint followed the reverse fixture in the Potteries when Warnock criticised the away dressing facilities at the bet365 Stadium and labelled them ‘a pigsty.’

Despite quipping that Stoke will get changed in a ‘camper van’ in the car park at the Riverside Stadium today, they will be accommodated in the club’s plush media room to change.

Warnock’s gripe did result in Stoke improving their own facilities and one of the main beneficiaries was Jose Mourinho’s Spurs, who visited the Potteries for a Carabao Cup tie at Christmas.

Warnock added: “I think Jose was quite pleased I complained. Apparently it was excellent when they went.”

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