Stoke City’s 2-0 defeat at home to Middlesbrough was a blow in their relegation fight – and didn’t look any better a few hours later when the highlights were shown on Quest TV.
Quest pundit Ian Holloway had his thoughts on the result as the ‘Neil Warnock’ effect inspired Middlesbrough to a 2-0 win while Stoke were left licking their wounds and planning for the next game without Nick Powell who was sent off late on.
First to Warnock who had been appointed only days earlier, Jonathan Woodgate having been removed following Boro’s 3-0 defeat at home to Swansea City last Saturday.
That left Boro clear of the relegation zone only on goal difference, but they have now leapfrogged Stoke who are down to 20th, only one point clear of the drop zone.
Grimsby manager Holloway praised Warnock, a Football League specialist who has eight promotions on his CV.
He said: “It’s not rocket science and experience in football doesn’t really count for that much but someone like Neil walks in, he looks at the staff, looks at the people and just makes unbiased decisions.
“He’s put centre-forwards in, he’s put his arm around a few, he’s kicked a few up the backside. Substitutions, you have to have game after game to know when the right time to do things is and he got them spot on.”
Let’s not forget that Stoke boss Michael O’Neill has had a tremendous impact. This was a bad day at the office but City were rock bottom when he was appointed in November but were showing promotion form under him in 2020 before the season was suspended in March.
He won’t reflect on this game with any fondness – certainly not Powell’s dismissal for two needless yellow cards withing two minutes in the closing stages.
Holloway added: “It’s absolutely mad, you must keep your discipline. I know it’s been strange times to say the least, it’ll be the longest these players haven’t played for and I think there is a little bit of frustration coming in. You must be disciplined.”