Middlesbrough verdict: What will have frustrated Neil Warnock as disjointed performance sees Boro outplayed by Wycombe
ANALYSIS: Joe Nicholson assesses Middlesbrough’s 3-0 defeat by Wycombe at the Riverside.
Hopefully things will be very different the next time Middlesbrough play at the Riverside Stadium.
Hopefully Neil Warnock is able to bolster his attacking options and build a side that is tougher to beat than the one on show in recent months.
Hopefully the empty seats that have been unattended all season are filled with supporters who have something to be optimistic about.
However, it was hard to find positives after this performance.
On the face of it, this hasn’t been a bad season for the Teessiders, especially after they narrowly avoided relegation last term, yet the lack of fans combined with Boro’s gradual decline has left a hollow feeling.
A 3-0 defeat to bottom of the table Wycombe was an underwhelming conclusion, as goals from Fred Onyedinma, Garath McCleary and Jason McCarthy sealed a convincing victory for Gareth Ainsworth’s side.
Due to their inferior goal difference, Wycombe’s hopes of avoiding relegation were realistically over before the game kicked off.
Boro were second best in the first half, though, and in truth were fortunate to only be two goals down.
The visitors’ opener came when defender Ryan Tafazolli’s pass split the Boro defence, releasing Oyedinma who dinked the ball over goalkeeper Jordan Archer.
It was a soft goal to concede, just like Wycombe’s second when McCleary played a one-two with Uche Ikpeazu, who held off Grant Hall, in the Boro box.
When the ball was returned to McCleary, the Chairboys attacker was unmarked to convert from close range. The 33-year-old was a handful but Boro looked off the pace.
Despite a double half-time chance, which saw Chuba Akpom and Connor Malley replace Johnson and Spence, little changed after the break.
Wycombe added a third from a corner as Tafazolli beat Paddy McNair, who had a rare off day, to the initial header and McCarthy nodded home a third.
Boro failed to match Wycombe’s energy and work rate. That will have angered Warnock more than anything.
With his options limited, Warnock stuck with a back three and wing-backs, with Djed Spence and Marvin Johnson starting on the flanks.
Spence for Neeskens Kebano was the only change to Boro’s starting XI from their draw at Millwall, yet Boro struggled to threaten in wide areas.
For most of the first half it looked like the hosts were playing with a back five as their flankers were pinned back.
Warnock’s side looked disjointed and were easy to penetrate as the gap between their front three, Duncan Watmore, Yannick Bolasie and Hayden Coulson (in the No 10 position), and Boro’s midfield was glaring.
Warnock’s changes at half-time saw Bolasie switch to the left and Coulson move to the right, with Watmore and Akpom up top.
Yet Boro’s forwards hardly touched the ball in the second half. Over 90 minutes, they didn’t register a single shot on target.
No one in a Boro shirt really came away with credit.
Supporters will hope the side has a different look about it next season when key players, such as Dael Fry, Marcus Tavernier and Anfernee Dijksteel, return from injury and new signings have arrived.
There is plenty of work to do in what looks like a pivotal summer.