Neil Warnock Consistency is the Key to Survival Hopes
By Robert Nichols
Saturday 11 Jul 2020 12:19:00
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It was a slightly more relaxed Neil Warnock that fielded questions on the zoom press conference at Hurworth yesterday. But just as there is nothing normal about a virtual press conference, there is still nothing normal about a situation that sees Boro play another vital game behind closed doors at the Riverside. It is a Riverside that hasn't seen a win this year. We come up against a Bristol City team whose alarming nose dive in form was arrested with victory in midweek. For Brissel it is all about next season but for Boro it is about survival. Can we make our survival instincts count today? Can we show some consistency? If we get back to back wins it will go such a long way towards bringing back Championship football to the banks of the Tees next term. Middlesbrough v Bristol City kick off 3pm – watch online.

Here are the Neil Warnock answers I have transcribed from tv questioners yesterday. There is no question that his mood was more relaxed. Yet he is keeping his and everyone elses feet on the floor. We need to win again and then the Boro world view will be so much more rosey.

First up was - Team news.

NW: We've no major problems from the other night so we can select from the same group.

How pleasing was that result particularly after 2 defeats and getting away from the bottom.

NW: Well, the Hull City was the one that we were really disappointed in. I think QPR we got what we deserved really once they had scored the goal. I think all credit to the boys going to a very tough place like Millwall, we only had 2 days and took on the changed system etc and it was really good and I really enjoyed watching them and it is good to get the result when you have played well, as well.


NW: It shows that we just have to become more consistent. I have only just been here a few weeks. It is just knowing your players. There's quite a few I don't really know what they are going to do the following day. It's trying the consistency from all of them. During that game including the subs I thought they were really consistent in the performance. What I know they can play like really.

Britt and Fletcher

NW: I think it is great for a manager when you see 2 strikers score. I love that. I don't think it has happened for a long time. It's one of those things, you hope can happen. And the contribution, Ashley not just scoring the penalty but the contribution for the first goal and Britt's really been working ever so hard for the team. I can't praise them two enough.

What is your points target – will one win and 50 be enough?

NW: I think it is a lot closer than it has ever been in my memory anyhow. Usually you say 50 points is the safety net but I don't think anybody including you guys, even looking into one of them golden balls or whatever you call them.. I don't think anyone can predict the numbers that you are going to need. You just don't know really. We are all anticipating everybody's going to win and everybody's going to do this. Who would have thought we were going to beat Millwall away I think that would have upset a few bookies bets I think.

Very much in your hands now..

NW: Yes it is.And it always has been. Even when we were in the bottom three it was still down to us. It was just so disappointing. The Hull result in particular because it gave Hull a massive boost when we didn't deserve to lose. A draw I would have been disappointed with. But to get nothing was almost criminal in my eyes. But these disappointments and bitter blows you have to take on the chin and you have to get on with it and the next day you have to forget about it and get on with it. And we have done that on the training ground in fairness to them.

What about Bristol City then..

NW: Bristol City – they have got a good group of players. One thing that Lee has had down at Bristol, is similar to Middlesbrough really, they have a chairman who loves the club, who wants to do well for the area. And they have spent a lot of money on the squad. They have got a very good squad, if you look at the names that are in the squad and the money that they have spent.

So, we know how talented they are. But we are fighting for our lives and we have to get something out of the game. And quite simply I am hoping that the lads have the same attitude and that we get the same rub of the green.

Kevin and Ron told me before the game that it was the best warm up that they had seen, the attitude and everything... the desire in the warm up. And that is what has got to continue. You start your games in the preparations, not just when the whistle goes. So I am hoping that they are all ready for the kick off on Saturday and can put in a similar performance.

There again I don't really know. I can't really know in my own mind, one after the other, from QPR to Millwall was like chalk and cheese.

Surprised by Bristol City bad run?

NW: Everybody has these runs really. They have been on quite a few runs like this over the years that Lee has been there but they persevered with Lee and he has always bounced back. But I think sometimes you can be too long at a club and you do need a change. I think players need a new voice etc so it was probably the right time for both parties. I think Lee will get a new job and will have learned an awful lot from that. And Bristol will have got a new voice for the squad. They have really got a good squad of players. I would say it is in the top six regarding the squad-wise in the league.

On Leeds

NW: I do hope that Leeds and West Brom go up, if I am honest. Leeds has been a fabulous club, with the facilities and everything else and they have had the breakdowns when they looked so confident over the last few years they have hit a brick wall. So, I think last night was a vital game and I think they can relax a little bit now and try and get over the line that way.

Before lockdown I thought they were the best two teams and I think they deserve to be in the top flight next year and it will be interesting to see who accompanies them.

Everyone seems to have something to play for still

NW: When the play offs first came on board I thought it made it more exciting because usually there are only one or two teams that is not involved, mathematically. This season seems the same. My old club Cardiff seem to have grasped that spot but nobody really seems to want to keep it. One by one they have fallen by the wayside and now some of them are regrouping and trying to make a meal of it. It is about sixth position because I think the other three are more or less nailed on now.

NW: I think they appreciated how organised we were which gives them a lift. They have got some good players but all players need that little bit of confidence. When you are fighting at that end of the table it is a different pressure than it is at the top. Some lads take it differently. I think every one to a man stood up to be counted and you might not have seen it after the game but things that were said on the pitch after the game were super, between us all. The lads want to do and we owe to the Middlesbrough fans who are sat at home and can't really get any frustration out. They saw after the QPR game everyone was doom and gloom and quite rightly so. But life is too short, you have got to get on with it and get some points on board.

NW: Usually in my teams, I probably know what 9 or 10 of my lads are going to do every week. At the moment I probably know 2 or 3, when you don't know your lads, when you have only had a few weeks with them, you try and assess the situation and do the best you can. We have not really had a lot of time to look into the mental side of the lads and how people cope with this type of pressure. But in a successful side I personally know what 9 or 10 of my lads are going to do. But it is what it is and there were quite a few pluses the other night. And hopefully if everyone is all right, there is not much of a respite from that game to this one and we hope that everybody's available.

Is it so important to survive?

NW: I wouldn't be here if I didn't believe that. It is alright talking about if we go down we might come straight back up. That is rubbish. We don't want to go down don't even think about it. Because you can't think of the consequences You look at the big clubs that are in that division that have been in that division for a few years. We have to scrap and make sure we don't have that decision because everything is geared for success. I have never seen facilities like it, me. If anything the lads are too comfortable they have got everything, apart from carpet slippers in the dressing room in case their feet get mucky I can't think of anything else they could give them.

NW: I look at it, we have played four games and won two, that is 50% win, so I don't look at the negatives. I think if I can keep 50% up I will be quite happy. (laughing)

NW: They knew what they were doing and we looked solid and I am not afraid to use that system. It is just sometimes I don't think you can get away with it against certain teams.

NW: Looking at the League Table I had a look to see how many we were from the play offs. That is how silly the League Table is when you that is how close it is. So many teams sucked in with one win you are sixth from bottom. It is ridiculous but it just shows you how you have got to fight for every point. You try and win the game and if you don't win it you don't lose it. You have got to tick on with the points tally at this stage of the season. And not get too disappointed and get on with the next game as soon as you have finished the last one.

NW: I think they (Bristol City) have already realised that it is going to be highly unlikely this year. I think they are already planning for next season really. For a big push because they have not really had a big push. They have been a little bit like Leeds but not as good as Leeds, they have almost got there and just run away at the end. The owner down there is a very good man as well, Lansdown and I think he will be gearing up for success next year.

NW: I was must admit I was quite pleased that the ground was empty at Millwall, if I am totally honest. That didn't bother me in the slightest.

NW: Ronnie Jepson knows Paul (Cook) very well and they talk two or three times a week and they still think the fixtures they have got are all winnable and that they can get out of that bottom three anyhow between now and the end of the season even with the 12 point deduction. He thinks they are playing that well. So good luck to them. But we've got to make sure, even with that deduction we finish above them as well as others.

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