Strachan happy to stick with his lot
THEY might have tumbled out of the Championship's top ten at the weekend, but Gordon Strachan does not see another raft of loan signings as the solution to Middlesbrough's current slump. Saturday's 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest means Strachan is still searching for his first victory since replacing Gareth Southgate last month. The game, in which Robert Earnshaw's second-half freekick cancelled out Leroy Lita's early opener, exposed weaknesses within Middlesbrough's squad, with a lack of creativity restricting Strachan's side to a handful of goalscoring opportunities. The Scotsman has made three loan signings since arriving on Teesside Marcus Bent, Isaiah Osbourne and Dave Kitson and it will inevitably take time for the trio to fully bed in. More changes are likely over the course of the season, but having overseen a period of upheaval in the last few weeks, Strachan, who has been linked with former Manchester United trainee Adam Eckersley, is hoping to let things settle down before re-entering the loan market. I don't really seen any more movement in the next week or two, he said. We've brought in a few loan players now, and we probably need a bit of time for things to settle down. Bent and Kitson have come in, and it's lucky we have them because (Marvin) Emnes and (Jeremie) Aliadiere are injured, and young (Jonathan) Franks hasn't really had a good bash at things yet. Once we settle the injury situation down and improve on that department, I think we'll be fine. Saturday's result plunged the Teessiders to 11th in the Championship table. They were fourth when Southgate left in the wake of a 2-0 win over Derby, and Strachan admits that things have not gone to plan in the opening four weeks of his reign. It doesn't look like I've made progress, does it, said the Boro boss, who was forced to listen to a smattering of boos at the final whistle of Saturday's game. Not at all. It's not been a great three weeks and I understand that. It's not been great for the players, it's not been great for me and it's not been great for the fans, but we have to deal with that. We're judged as players and managers when we walk out of the door, but I understand that people will still be unhappy now. I understand that. Having won just one of their last six matches, Boro are now two points off a play-off place. An automatic promotion spot increasingly looks beyond them, and the battle for the play-offs is likely to be intense with up to a dozen clubs harbouring realistic hopes of a top-six finish. Strachan is refusing to look too far into the future, but the former Celtic boss accepts he took on a sizeable challenge when he agreed to return to management at the end of last month. My only concern right now is making us a more rounded and better team, he said. That's my concern at the moment. Wherever we end up at the end of the season, que sera sera. It's obviously a challenge, but every job is a challenge and I certainly didn't think this was going to be easy, that's for sure. I'm not a silly man. I came here for a challenge, and I'm going to get one.
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