Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Cardiff manager, is likely to face some uncomfortable questions from owner Vincent Tan as their poor run of form continued with defeat to Middlesbrough.
Kike struck the only goal of the game in the second minute to give Boro all three points and pile the pressure on Solskjaer.
The Norwegian has seen his side take just one point from their last four games, and his wider record of just 20 points from a possible 75 in his nine-month reign makes for worrying reading, particularly given Tan’s willingness to back him during the summer transfer window.
Solskjaer, who has retained the same side just once in his ninth months in charge, again shuffled his pack last night.
The Norwegian brought in £5m signing Bruno Manga and Juan Cala at the heart of his defence, while shifting Matt Connolly into an unfamiliar left-back role.
It did not take long for their lack of experience in each other’s company to tell as Middlesbrough took the lead after 87 seconds. Adam Clayton’s pass allowed Albert Adomah to gallop into space and his cross gave Kike an easy finish after pulling away from Cala.
It was obvious Connolly could not handle Adomah’s pace and another surge from the winger would have resulted in a goal for Adam Reach had John Brayford not intervened at the far post. The home support were stunned, and there were even boos for Solskjaer when he caught a wayward clearance on the touchline.
Solskjaer threw on Aron Gunnarsson for the ineffective Federico Macheda at the break and was at least rewarded with some urgency. But the visitors remained untroubled and it took a sharp low stop from David Marshall to keep out Clayton’s drive from the edge of the box.
Middlesbrough then lost full-back Damia Abella with what looked like a serious knee injury. Kenwyne Jones began to throw his considerable weight about and was twice denied at close-range by substitute Emilio Nsue.
Gunnarsson, one of few Cardiff players to emerge with any credit, dragged one last effort wide ahead of another chorus of discontent at the full-time whistle.Reuse content