Middlesbrough failed to take advantage of Leeds’ defeat at the hands of Birmingham to go top of the league, when they played out a 0-0 draw with Swansea City at the Riverside.

Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis blamed the lack of cutting edge on the schedule for the Football League. With more players playing more minutes for both club and country, the Boro boss addressed the need to cut down the fixture list.

“Where we as brightly and sparkly as we have been? I am not sure,” said Pulis. “I was last in the Championship working 11 years ago, you look at it now and there are more quality players, playing in better stadiums, the pitches are better, the quality is better, and there are better players who are playing international football.

“And yet we are asked to play eight more games than the Premier League, there’s more Premier League players playing international football but there are plenty now playing in the Championship, someone has to look at it.

“To ask players to play Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday … you look at the top teams at this level, who have the internationals too, and looking at some of the results around, you ask their managers if there’s a little tiredness in there.”

There’s no let up in the fixture list either, with more games scheduled in the winter months over Christmas and new year.

“This is the period, the next six to eight weeks where you have more games … we have played nine games already and the Premier League have played six, and we have another couple of midweek games. It’s forced in. It’s only my view.”

Middlesbrough play their second game this week against Preston North End in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, before a trip to Hull City on Saturday afternoon.

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Lifelong Boro fan - from the highs of watching Juninho and the Carling Cup victory, to the lows of Gordon Strachan and Lee Dong Gook

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