Steve McClaren is adamant QPR can turn things around after slipping to a club-record seventh straight defeat with a 2-0 loss at Middlesbrough.
The former Boro boss, who got a decent reception after returning to the club he left in 2006 to take over England, was left frustrated by two costly mistakes in the first half that Rangers failed to recover from.
With less than two minutes on the clock, Middlesbrough took the lead when Jonny Howson was left in too much space to make the most of Mo Besic’s pass.
Then in the 32nd minute Ashley Fletcher added Middlesbrough’s second when he fired into the top corner after another Besic pass picked him out.
Despite a couple of strong saves from Boro goalkeeper Darren Randolph, QPR couldn’t get back into it and they are nine points clear of the relegation zone after the latest loss.
McClaren said: “We lost the game in the first 30 minutes to two errors, two goals and then against a very good Middlesbrough team, who have conceded the least goals in the Football League, it was going to be uphill. We huffed and puffed.
“We couldn’t get the goal in the second half. The lesson is we can’t start a game and within two minutes be one down.
“This is a tough week, Leeds on Tuesday, a great atmosphere, another top team and we have to keep fighting and show perseverance like we have been doing and get the first win of the year.
“We are very close, we need to really have a go on Tuesday against Leeds and then Brentford.
“The errors we are making can be rectified on the training field, we need to be back on there because you can’t do anything on the training ground when you play seven games in 21 days.”
Middlesbrough march on and have a six-point gap now to seventh spot, while they are chasing Leeds in second by the same number of points.
Boro boss Tony Pulis, whose side have now won three of their last 13 at the Riverside, said: “Pleased obviously to win at home. There’s good momentum at the club.
“We’ve only lost one game this calendar year and that was Sheffield Untied with 10 men. We’ve had too many draws at the Riverside, we’ve got to turn them into wins.
“It was a great run from Jonny. I thought Besic first half was excellent, that was like him last year. We’ve got to get him up to that level.
“There’s 13 games left, that’s a lot of games. And if we can get Besic up to that level that he was at last year, him and John Obi Mikel, that’s an awesome pair in midfield.”
He added: “Not for me [no weight lifted], might be for the players, the press, the public. I’ve been in this situation a lot, you have to keep believing you’re going to get it done. There’s always time around the corner.
“I thought we gave the fans a really good show in the first half. The movement was good, second half, one or two looked a bit tired.
“Fletcher looked a bit tired, it was second-half syndrome. First half you’re pumped up. Britt Assombalonga tired off a bit as well. One or two didn’t have the energy in the second half to stretch the game and that’s what we needed to do.”
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