‘We’re still miles off’ blasts Chris Wilder after Middlesbrough’s timid surrender at QPR

Middlesbrough boss Chris Wilder felt his side’s 3-2 defeat at QPR showed they should not be regarded as promotion contenders.

Boro were three down at Loftus Road before mounting a fightback.

Wilder believes the squad needs to be strengthened before a promotion challenge can be sustained.

He has made no secret of his desire to bring in new players, saying after last week’s draw with West Brom he wanted as many as five.

Queens Park Rangers' Chris Willock scores his sides first goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at Loftus Road (Picture: Rhianna Chadwick/PA)

A striker is top of the list and they have lodged an £8m offer for Dutch striker Jorgen Strand Larsen but his club side Groningen want £12m.

“We’re all trying. It’s just such a difficult market to deal in,” said Wilder following the defeat at Loftus Road.

“We’re all trying to do the best deals and get the right players.

“But we’re still miles off. People that commentate on the Championship are putting us up there, maybe because of historical things, the size of the club, big crowds and what managers have done in the past.

Middlesbrough's Darragh Lenihan protests against Queens Park Rangers second goal during the Sky Bet Championship match (Picture: Rhianna Chadwick/PA Wire)

“But, as a group, I think we understand there’s still an awful lot of work that needs to be done for us to be talked of in the same breath as a Sheffield United, West Brom or a Norwich or Watford or Burnley that have been tipped to have a successful season.”

Chris Willock, back from injury, netted a brilliant opener and goals from Jimmy Dunne and Lyndon Dykes put Rangers in control before Matt Crooks and Marcus Forss netted for Boro.

But they were unable to find an equaliser and ended the match with 10 men after Darragh Lenihan was red-carded in injury time for bringing down Macauley Bonne, who would have been through on goal.

Wilder criticised his team’s defending for two of QPR’s goals but insisted keeper Zack Steffen was fouled in the build-up to the second – the ball bounced in off Dunne after Steffen was unable to collect a corner.

Wilder said: “When you give good players a handout, which we did – charity, aided by some ridiculous refereeing decisions – it’s always going to be a difficult afternoon.

“There was a comment by the referee to a member of my staff at half-time that the goalkeeper has to be stronger.

“The referee doesn’t (shouldn’t) have an opinion in terms of coaching or what the goalkeeper needs to do. Especially when the goalkeeper’s facing towards the corner and somebody behind him puts a hand on his back and pushes him.”

Frmer Arsenal trainee Willock underlined his importance to Rangers by putting them ahead in brilliant fashion in the 13th minute.

Willock strode forward from deep, fended off two Boro challenges and sent an unstoppable long-range shot beyond Zack Steffen and into the corner of the net. Steffen then managed to push away a Dykes strike from a similar range, but a terrible mistake by the American keeper led to Rangers doubling their lead on 27 minutes.

After coming for Ilias Chair’s left-wing corner, Steffen completely missed the ball and it bounced off Dunne and into the net.

By the 38th-minute mark it was 3-0. Stefan Johansen whipped in a free-kick from the left and Dykes got in front of Marc Bola to head home.

Boro reduced the deficit three minutes later, when Crooks got in front of QPR defender Rob Dickie to head in Ryan Giles’ corner.

Crooks then turned provider to set up recent signing Forss, who was making his full debut, for a simple close-range finish.

The away fans briefly thought their side had equalised when Paddy McNair touched in Giles’ cross, but the offside flag was quickly raised.

QPR: Dieng, Kakay, Dickie, Dunne, Paal, Field, Johansen (Dozzell 82), Willock (Adomah 74), Amos, Chair (Hamalainen 88), Dykes (Bonne 87). Unused subs: Masterson, Shodipo, Walsh.

Middlesbrough: Steffen, Dijksteel (McNair 46), Lenihan, Bola, Jones, Crooks, Howson, McGree, Giles, Forss (Smith 68), Watmore (Akpom 46). Unused substitutes: Fry, Boyd-Munce, Roberts, Finch.

Referee: J Smith (Lincolnshire).