League Insider - Boro
Rob Parrish takes a look at the talking points from the Football League in our weekly feature.
Last Updated: 23/09/10 11:32am
Middlesbrough captain Gary O'Neil offered a blunt and brutal appraisal of Gordon Strachan's side in the wake of their 3-0 drubbing by QPR at Loftus Road.
"The simple answer is that we aren't good enough," conceded O'Neil, after Boro suffered their third defeat of the fledgling season to Neil Warnock's impressive league leaders.
The Championship table is still in the embryonic stages and, as manager of the month Warnock pointed out on Friday, you get nothing for being top in September, but these are concerning times for the Teessiders.
Strachan was busy in the summer transfer market as he continues to overhaul the squad he inherited from Gareth Southgate early last season when, incidentally, Boro were just two points away from topping the Championship themselves.
The spending spree which saw Kris Boyd, Kevin Thomson, Stephen McManus and Andy Halliday tempted to the Riverside from the Scottish Premier League saw Boro positioned as pre-season promotion favourites. So far, they have been anything but.
The optimism in the North East at a raft of new arrivals saw almost 22,000 head to the Riverside for their opening day clash with Ipswich. A 3-1 defeat to Roy Keane's Tractor Boys, followed by a 0-0 draw at Leicester, saw the gate plummet by over 7,000 for the next home game, a 1-0 success against Sheffield United.
Three successive defeats have followed, with Boro tumbling out of the Carling Cup to Millwall, before being undone by Barnsley and then the Rs without troubling the scorers and shipping five. Hardly the kind of displays which will have supporters swarming through the turnstiles for Tuesday night's clash against Burnley.
New-look teams, admittedly, take time to gel, but O'Neil has hinted at his own concerns in Strachan's squad, stating: "We seem to have lots of players doing the same sort of things.
"We have lots of midfielders who are good on the ball and pass it well, but we don't have a player who is going to give us a bit of magic and beat a player, or anyone with lots of pace who runs past people. Maybe I'm being slightly too honest and giving the squad a bit of a battering."
Further concern for Boro fans should come from the statistic that only once in the past decade has a team climbed out of the bottom half of the table after five games to finish in the automatic promotion places. Sunderland's feat of 2006/07 will take some matching.
QPR supporters can, however, take heart from the knowledge that eight of the teams to top the table at this stage over the same time frame have gone on to secure a place in the Premier League.
Southampton's lengthy, and at times unseemly, chase of Nigel Adkins finally bore fruit on Sunday evening after a compensation package was agreed with Scunthorpe.
The saga became somewhat messy late last week with accusations from Iron chairman Steve Wharton of ultimatums from the League One side and suggestions that Saints were 'not the right sort of people for Nigel to be working with'.
Wharton's slightly paternal attitude was not enough to persuade former Glanford Park physio Adkins to remain, and he departs after suffering a disappointing 2-0 home defeat to Bristol City in his 199th and final match in charge - a result which came as little surprise given the off-field distractions.
Hull City boss Nigel Pearson will be rueing his decision to allow on-loan midfielder Seyi Olofinjana to turn out for Cardiff City against the Tigers on Saturday.
Olofinjana, somewhat predictably, headed home the opening goal for the Bluebirds during Saturday's 2-0 win in South Wales, although he pointedly refused to celebrate.
The Nigerian had been given permission to tackle his parent club with Cardiff allowing their own loan man Anthony Gerrard to feature for Hull, an agreement which worked out very well for Dave Jones' side.