Mark Venus admits his side must get back to basics if they are to climb the table – and if he is to get the Middlesbrough job.
The Riverside caretaker boss was left disappointed after his side slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Blackburn in a rain-lashed game that was a massive reality check.
Hartlepool-born Venus, promoted from the assistant’s role after Tony Mowbray was sacked, was buzzing after his dugout debut saw Boro turn on the style in a 4-0 televised home win over Doncaster Rovers.
But he was brought right back down to earth as Boro were beaten by Jason Lowe’s goal at Ewood Park.
“It was a pretty scrappy game, to be honest, ” he said. “It was a tough match between two teams working hard that was decided by a great strike.
“I’m disappointed. Not angry. I’m disappointed that we went to Blackburn on the back of a good performance against Doncaster but didn’t get anything.
“I’m not knocking any of the players for their effort. I thought they all worked really hard and there were a lot of tired limbs after a tough game.
“In this league you have to do the basics well in the important areas in every single game. If you don’t then you lose the match. And that’s what happened at Blackburn.
“We need to get the basics right – controlling the ball, clearing danger in our box, passing the ball, making the right decisions, putting the ball into dangerous positions to create more chances.”
Boro were industrious enough in a closely-fought game against a Rovers side who had taken just one point in three games.
They battled and tackled and closed down with real bite – four Boro players were booked – but in attack they were laboured and predictable and failed to trouble Rovers keeper Jake Kean.
For all their possession Boro’s only real effort came from a Kei Kamara header that was palmed behind.
Rovers, in contrast, were very direct, with quick long balls causing all kinds of problems for the Boro defence and shot-stopper Jason Steele had to make three superb saves to deny the home side.
There was nothing Steele could do to prevent Rovers’ winner, though. Lowe picked up a loose ball in the Boro half on 76 minutes and carried it forward before lashing in a 25-yard exocet that swerved beyond the keeper and inside the near post to claim his first Rovers goal.
“I’m not sure what you can do about a goal like that, ” said Venus. “It was a good strike.”
Meanwhile, Venus insisted he was not aware of any imminent change in his employment status.
Chairman Steve Gibson has said he will take his time over finding the right full time manager and that Venus could be a serious candidate if he could deliver results.
“I don’t know where we are with the manager search, ” he said.
“I just carry on working with the team and I will do until I’m told otherwise.
“I’m sure the chairman is doing what he thinks is best for the club.”