Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate has issued an impassioned plea for the club's fans to get behind his team as they fight for their top-flight lives.
The former England defender admitted he was probably doing himself no favours when he criticised sections of the crowd at the Riverside Stadium for Saturday's 1-1 Barclays Premier League draw with Portsmouth after they vented their displeasure with his players.
"Saturday's game was a big game that we were expected to win," he told the Evening Gazette. "I know everybody came to enjoy it, and when things didn't go our way there was a tension around the stadium. That filtered through to the players."
His comments came after some supporters sang "We've only got one player", sparing Turkey international Tuncay Sanli their wrath.
Marlon King's injury-time equaliser ultimately denied Pompey a precious victory on Teesside and kept both clubs deeply entrenched at the foot of the table with time running out.
However, Southgate is desperate for the fans to get behind the players be believes can keep the club in the Premier League.
"I know how much it means to the players when the fans are getting behind them. They really are important," he added.
"That's why I feel that we have to stick together, because we can see this through together."
Just how well that message is received in the wake of Southgate's comments immediately after the game remains to be seen, although the 38-year-old knows only results on the pitch will placate the critics.
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