Jackson leaves rudderless Boro in the mire

Norwich City 1 Middlesbrough 0
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The Independent Football

The need for a new manager to halt Middlesbrough's slide down another division was made apparent as they went down to surprise promotion contenders Norwich.

The Canaries manager, Paul Lambert, made some clever adjustments to the side which lost in midweek to Crystal Palace and was rewarded with Simeon Jackson's winner a minute before half-time. "We freshened it up to give lads who we thought could win a game a go and give one or two a break," said Lambert.

One of those changes was to give Anthony McNamee hisfirst start of the season and he tormented Boro and set up the goal for Jackson.

"It was a terrific ball in and Grant Holt does great to pull it back," said Lambert. "Anthony gives us width and the ball heput in was exceptional."

Boro's caretaker, Steve Agnew, had a slightly different view and felt his side did not deserve to lose. "My initial reaction was the goal was offside, as you would when you see two yellow shirts behind our back four," said Agnew. "It was disappointing to concede just before half-time. We were fine in the first half.

"They hit the inside of a post but Jason Steele has not had much to do."

Following the departure of Gordon Strachan, Agnew was in temporary charge, with Tony Mowbray, Paul Ince and Nigel Pearson among the front-runners to replace Strachan.

The chairman, SteveGibson, insists he is in no hurry to appoint a new manager, saying it is imperative to ensurehe has the right man for the job.

Agnew is not going to get the post but in the first half he had his side playing with a freedom of expression rarely seen under Strachan. Yet once the goal went in Boro had the look of a dispirited side in need of strong leadership.

"Myself, Mark Proctor and the players worked really hard in a limited number of days and we certainly didn't deserve to lose the game," said Agnew.

"It has gone quick. From Monday onwards it has been hectic and difficult but also enjoyable in some aspects, although with big disappointment with the results.

"We need a break as a team and the supporters need a break. That will happen and when it does we will move forward."

City hit a post when McNamee executed a superb turn and his low cross was cleared by Nicky Bailey only as far as Andrew Crofts, whose angled shot came back off the inside of a post.

After starting with two up front Agnew showed he was not afraid to make changes when needed and hauled off an ineffective Kris Boyd to give Scott McDonald a chance. The striker had the opportunity to snatch a goal – and a point – at the death but sliced wide.