Reading v Middlesbrough - Manager Neil Warnock puzzled by Middlesbrough’s lack of goals

Neil Warnock could not believe how poor Middlesbrough have been in front of goal over the last three years, but he knows he must get them firing any way he can for “an important three games in the club’s history”.

Neil Warnock with Britt Assombalonga MFC 0-1 QPRFC 0-2 05-07-2020 EFL1. Picture by FRANK REID

It starts at Reading tonight, where Warnock will be hoping for a scrappy goal to get his team up and running after Saturday’s demoralising defeat to Bristol City.

“When you look at it for three years, it’s got to be more than tactics, hasn’t it?” he said when asked to explain his club’s poor goal output. “To be bottom of the Championship scorers three years running is incredible really, I didn’t quite believe it.”

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Marcus Tavernier has been shortlisted for the Championship’s goal of the month after his strike against Stoke City in Warnock’s opening game, but the manager knows he cannot rely on that.

18 July 2019...... Middlesborough v Leeds United. EFL Championship. Leeds Stuart Dallas gets away from Boro's Marcus Tavernier.. Picture Tony Johnson.

“I’d like to see something go in off someone’s backside, somebody in the box and a ricochet,” he said. “You can accept worldies but they don’t come every week.”

With Warnock also bemoaning his defenders, the loss of Harold Moukoudi, recalled from his loan by St Etienne, is a blow to Boro’s survival hopes.

“I have found we are short of that type of defender you need in a battle,” he said.

“We tried to get (Moukoudi) until the end of the season but they’ve got a cup final. The boy wanted to help us. In fact, we were fortunate to get him for two, three games.”

Boro are two points above the Championship relegation zone, and Warnock has warned they cannot afford to go down.

“It’s an important three games in the club’s history, really,” he said. “We just can’t afford to get relegated.

“The problem Middlesbrough would have is every team that comes to your stadium, it’s like Wembley, they all want to play above themselves and that’s what makes it harder to come straight back up.

“Players do lift themselves 15, 20 per cent.

“It’s hard enough in that league without people playing above themselves against you.”

Last six games: Reading WDWLLD; Middlesbrough LWLLWL

Referee: A Woolmer (Northamptonshire)

Last time: Reading 0 Middlesbrough 1, December 22, 2018, Championship.

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