Middlesbrough's Neil Warnock: I could have put more effort in than 'non-existent' strikers

Neil Warnock lambasted an “unacceptable” first-half performance from his “non-existent” Middlesbrough forwards, claiming he could have put more effort in than they did.

Warnock took his team to Millwall sensing an opportunity to win, and knowing they needed to in order to keep their fading Championship play-off hopes alive.

Instead, they put in an insipid first 45 minutes pockmarked by Grant Hall's own goal, and were never able to recover, losing 1-0.

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He accused his players of lacking the heart for a battle which, even when deserted, is what you are guaranteed at The New Den.

ANGRY: Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock

“I don't think they know how to go through the motions, I just think some of them might not want to compete against a tough, physical Millwall side,” he said. “We've known all along what we need for next season and this has just magnified what we need for next season.

“It was like playing with eight men at times. Next season we should have 11.

“We won't chuck the towel in now but it's disappointing – the first half today was just unacceptable. Crikey, I'm 72 and I could have put more effort in.

“It was one of the most frustrating afternoons this season.

“The first half wasn't acceptable. The forwards were very poor. We’re at Millwall and you’ve got to be determined. You’ve got to at least graft and I didn’t see that at all in the first half.

“Hence the changes and Tav (Marcus Tavernier) coming off injured as well. That took it from bad to worse.

“I thought there was a reaction in the second half and I thought we played some decent stuff on a difficult surface without making clear chances. We got in some great positions but the ball just didn’t fall for us.

“There quite a few ricochets fell to their man to clear and we just couldn’t get that goal.”

With one forced by an injury to Tavernier right at the end of the first half, Warnock had made four changes before the game restarted after the interval. Right wing-back Djed Spence and centre-forwards Yannick Bolasie and Chuba Akpom were all withdrawn.

“I just felt the game was there to be won today, let alone get a point,” said Warnock, whose side were much better in the second half without convincing that they would score. “Even at half-time I thought it was there to be won.

“I've never been as disappointed in the strikers as I was today. I thought they were absolutely non-existent first half. You can't play without strikers.

“I have to bite my tongue a bit but I didn't see any effort from the three of them.

“I can't tell you what it's all about if I’m honest, but I changed it at half-time because I wanted people who were at least going to put their head in.”

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