Middlesbrough’s defeat to Newport County in the FA Cup fourth round replay was a disaster for more reasons than one.
Not only did Middlesbrough exit the competiton after losing 2-0, but reports of first-team players aggravating fans at the final whistle flooded social media soon after the final whistle.
Mixed reports suggested Rudy Gestede had swore at fans, Clayton had questioned the fans’ criticism despite the poor performance and Besic had made crying gestures at the supporters. However, no official reports or evidence has been captured.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of Boro’s game against Leeds United on Saturday, manager Tony Pulis addressed the rumours and confirmed he had spoken to the players involved.
“I spoke to the players yesterday about it” he said,
“Irrespective of what reaction you get from the supporters, as I‘ve said before, we are custodians of this football club but we are not here for life. Those supporters are.
“They have been born into supporting this football club and a lot of them their lives revolve around supporting this football club and you have to show them respect, even if you are being criticised.
“I’ve told the players the fans have the right to criticise you. They have the right to say what they want so long as it is done in the right manner.
“I can understand the supporters getting frustrated,” Pulis added.
“They have travelled 12 hours and stood in the rain for two hours on an open terrace watching their team get beat.
“I’ve had a chat with the players yesterday and we’ve sorted one or two things out.”
All three players are expected not to start the game tomorrow against Leeds, but with Besic having missed out in the game at Newport, he may feature from the off against Leeds.