Joe Nicholson's verdict: Middlesbrough's problems are becoming more and more concerning after Fulham draw
Even Jonathan Woodgate was struggling to find many positives following Saturday’s goalless draw with Fulham at the Riverside – a result which hammered home Middlesbrough’s alarming problems.
For 73 minutes, the Teessiders played with a man advantage following a red card for Cottagers goalkeeper Marek Rodak, yet still they couldn’t score.
Boro have netted just 11 goals in 14 league games this term, only Wigan Athletic have scored less in the second tier, and fears of a relegation dogfight have become palpable.
Woodgate’s side have been drifting towards the relegation zone for weeks, and the Fulham result saw them slip into the Championship’s bottom three for the first time since December 2010.
The Boro head coach has a point when he says there’s still a long way to go, 32 games to be exact, yet Woodgate can’t kid himself about the rocky position his side are in.
During his appointment back in June, Woodgate spoke about his ambition and how he wouldn’t be happy with simply finishing in mid-table.
After Saturday’s result, during an interview with BBC Tees Sport, the Boro boss responded to a question about his side’s position by say, “we’re three points off 15th.”
Woodgate isn’t solely to blame for Boro’s seven-game winless run, though, with an argument there’s only so much he can do.
The Boro boss has changed formation in recent weeks to shore things up at the back, yet the side’s attacking players simply aren’t delivering.
Woodgate played with two strikers, Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher, against Fulham, yet the visiting centre-backs were rarely tested – substitute keeper Marcus Bettinelli faced just one effort on target.
The alternatives? The Teessiders didn’t even have a recognised striker on the bench as the game gradually fizzled out into a goalless stalemate.
To be fair to Woodgate, Boro’s overall performances have improved in recent weeks and, aside from the games against Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham, they have competed in every game this season.
Still, without a significant goal threat, Boro are struggling to stop a worrying slide.