GRANT LEADBITTER has called Middlesbrough’s 3-2 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday a ‘reality check’ to their dreams of getting out of the Championship.
Boro have won three out of their five games which includes a cup win at Oldham Athletic, but their Championship record is won two, lost two – and a poor display at the Riverside saw them lose at home for the first time.
Leadbitter scored two penalties to reduce the arrears after Wednesday led 3-0 after just over an hour, but Boro were unable to peg their opponents back, leaving the midfielder disappointed with his day’s work.
“It’s a reality check for everyone. Not just for a new player coming to the club, but for the rest of us too,” said Leadbitter. “That’s the Championship for you, I’m afraid, and we as players need to do a lot better than we did on Saturday. That’s the worst performance from us in a long, long time.
“We didn’t defend set pieces very well, we gave far too many away, but we have to learn quickly.
“We have a game on Tuesday, and another league game on Saturday, so it’s back in again. We want to get back to winning ways, and we want to win football games – the manager and everyone in the dressing room wants that.”
Tomas Mejias was at fault for Wednesday’s first goal, racing off his line at a corner and getting nowhere, and Leadbitter feels that Boro’s new players will have to get to grips with the Championship quickly if they are to avoid defeat in such circumstances again.
“It’s not good for the new players coming in to lose games in the manner we did on Saturday,” he said.
“It’s not good at all. They’ll learn. We’ll all learn as a football club. We maybe have to work harder at certain aspects, and approach games wanting to win every single game. Every game is going to be tough in this league. It’s an old cliché but we have to win football games.
“We go straight back into things, we were back in training on Sunday, we’re ready to put things right and go on from there.
“It was a surprise, we were very poor, we can’t get away from that. We needed to be men and be counted out there and we didn’t do that, we’re disappointed as a club. But we move on, we’ve got another game, that’s all we can do.”
Leadbitter’s goals ultimately counted for nought in a game low on quality but high on entertainment, and the former Sunderland midfielder could not take any positives out of the experience.
“We don’t take any consolation at all from being beaten in football matches,” said Leadbitter. “We have to win games, especially our home games, and make this a good place to win games.
“I scored two but it doesn’t matter. We got beat in the game. It doesn’t matter to me if I score and we don’t win.
“Every football match is important. We want to win, it’s what you’re taught as a kid, and for some reason we didn’t on Saturday. We let everyone down but most of all we let ourselves down.”