Garry Monk apologised to travelling Middlesbrough fans after what he deemed an “unacceptable” display at Bristol City on Saturday.
The manager was scathing about his team’s performance in a 2-1 loss, as two goals in three second-half minutes from Joe Bryan and Jamie Paterson sent them to defeat.
Even a 75th-minute own goal by City defender Hordur Magnusson could not rouse the visitors to earn a point and Monk pulled no punches after the game.
“Our supporters have spent a lot of hard-earned cash to travel a long way and they deserved better,” he said. “I can only apologise to them because that was unacceptable.
“I know we have good players and I expected a lot more of them. For 70 minutes ,we were not good enough and to show a reaction when you are 2-0 down is all too easy.
“We began to do the things we should have been doing from the start. That isn’t acceptable and it hurts. I take responsibility.
“There were a lot of strong discussions after we let ourselves down in the second half against Derby (a 3-0 defeat) and I expected a reaction.
“Our supporters have spent a lot of hard-earned cash to travel a long way and they deserved better.”
Boro fans are certainly up in arms, with many calling for chairman Steve Gibson to axe the manager he only appointed in the close season.
City went in front on 51 minute when Bailey Wright’s deep cross from the right was headed in at the far post by Bryan, whose close-range effort gave goalkeeper Darren Randolph no chance.
Before Boro had time to regroup, a slick move out of defence, started by Korey Smith and carried on by Aden Flint, saw the big central defender cross for Jamie Paterson to blast home from 10 yards.
The visitors were given hope when Magnusson inexplicably headed an innocuous ball into the box from the right past his own goalkeeper on 75 minutes.
But City, up to third place, held out few alarms, going close again when Josh Brownhill’s late drive brought a diving save from Randolph
Home boss Lee Johnson said: “It is still early days as far as positions are concerned, but I’m delighted to be third and eight points clear of a very good side in Middlesbrough. Had we lost, they would have been right on our heels and, with a very good manager in Garry Monk, I expect them to kick on from here.
“We scored two great goals. Aden Flint tells me he wants to change numbers from four to seven because he thinks he’s a winger after his cross for the second.”
Bristol City: Fielding, Wright, Flint, Baker, Magnusson, Brownhill, Pack, Smith, Bryan (Djuric 74), Paterson (Eliasson 82), Reid (Leko 89). Subs not used: Taylor, Steele, Woodrow, Vyner. Booked: Bryan, Smith. Goals: Bryan 51, Paterson 54.
Middlesbrough: Randolph, Christie, Fry, Gibson, Da Silva (Bamford 78), Forshaw, Howson, Downing (Johnson 67), Braithwaite (Gestede 57), Traore, Assombalonga. Subs: Konstantopoulos, Friend, Clayton, Tavernier. Booked: Gibson, Christie. Goal: Magnusson 75 og. Att: 18,752. Ref: Stephen Martin