Tony Pulis: Middlesbrough boss finds it 'difficult to explain' poor home form
Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis says his players must be big enough to accept criticism from fans if they carry on failing to get results at home.
Boro are 12 points behind Championship leaders Leeds after winning just once at home in three months - as well as being knocked out of the Carabao Cup by League One side Burton Albion.
"You have to accept there is sometimes going to be criticism," said Pulis.
"It's a big club with big expectations. People want performances and results."
The former Stoke, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion boss, 60, told BBC Tees: "It affects people in different ways. I find it difficult to explain. The best place to play is at home."
'Oh, they don't like to be beside the Riverside...'
- Middlesbrough have picked up more points on the road this season (20 in 12 matches) than at home (19 in 12).
- Boro have scored more goals away from home (14 in 12 matches) than they have at home (11 in 12).
- Only one team in the Championship (Bolton Wanderers, eight) have scored fewer home goals than Boro's 11.
- Boro won their first four Championship home games this season against Sheffield United, Birmingham, West Bromwich Albion and Bolton.
- That run was ended a 0-0 draw at home to Swansea City on 22 September.
- Since then, they have won just once in seven league games at the Riverside - a 2-0 victory against Wigan Athletic on 10 November.
Fans have a 'right to criticise'
The 1-0 Boxing Day loss to managerless Sheffield Wednesday, to a goal from Boro old boy Adam Reach, was a third home defeat in four games.
"One or two lads dropped their heads a bit," said Pulis. "But the majority really showed their character and kept going.
"If players aren't giving enough, then the crowd, and individuals within the stand, have a right to criticise.
"What you've got to do as a person and a player is stand up, roll up your sleeves and prove you are good enough to play for this club.
"The biggest frustration is dropping so deep at times. We have Jonny Howson and Stewart Downing getting the ball off the back four. We're never going to score a goal doing that.
"You want them further forward trying to create. They are two really good players with lots of ability. But, when you look at the stats, we've still had 30 crosses into their box."