Bristol Rugby chairman Chris Booy gives his backing to head coach Liam Middleton
CHRIS Booy has assured Liam Middleton his job is under no immediate threat – but has warned the Bristol head coach that a repeat of Sunday's "disastrous" performance at Nottingham will not be tolerated.
Bristol were beaten 63-7 after shipping nine tries at Meadow Lane on Sunday, a result and performance made all the more bizarre given it came seven days after an impressive win against Bedford.
Chairman Booy has spoken with club owner Steve Lansdown – and plans to meet Middleton and his coaching team for talks today.
But he said the club was not in the business of making knee-jerk reactions and suggested Middleton would be given time to get Bristol back on track.
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Asked if the futures of Middleton and his coaching staff were under any immediate threat, Booy told The Post: "Absolutely not. There's no way we would work on that basis – we have a strategy and a plan and we continue with that plan.
"We're not knee-jerking into any irrational decisions – there's no need for that – but, clearly, things have to improve for the sake of the rugby club. They have to improve.
"We have to put it right. Liam's the head coach and, in the first instance, he has to put it right. Obviously, if he doesn't put it right over a period of time, then all of us have to take stock as to the way forward.
"But we had a very successful season last season under Liam – we had 20 minutes of madness in Penzance, whereas on Sunday we had 80 minutes of madness.
"I don't understand why we've got it wrong – because I look at the squad, I look at the bench from Sunday, and the strength of our squad is far superior to what we had last year and, in my view, to the Nottingham team.
"Clearly, something has gone horribly wrong, and we have to get into the players' heads, because it's all about psychology, I suspect. The margins are quite fine and we've got to get that right. At this point, Liam is the head coach and it's his job to put it right."
Booy said he would be demanding a reasoned explanation for Bristol's lack of consistency. After beating free-scoring Bedford 23-13 and limiting them to one try a week earlier, they were carved open far too easily and regularly at Meadow Lane.
"I don't understand how you can go from the sublime to the ridiculous in seven days," said Booy. "That's the bit I'm struggling with and the issue seems to come back down to inconsistency.
"It's not acceptable, everybody knows it's not acceptable, and we've got to put it right. We can't panic, we've got to put it right.
"I'm struggling to understand why we should put in such a dreadful performance. When it goes wrong, it goes wrong – and that's one factor.
"But we should be too good to allow it to go wrong. I haven't yet heard a rational explanation it for it – but I'm demanding one."
Booy, pictured, ruled out the possibility of a "quick-fix" to his side's problems – and said any speculation about Middleton's future would not help results improve.
"Quick-fixes invariably don't work, but I don't understand what the difference is from last year," he said. "I've got several meetings with the coaches, in which we will try to get to the bottom of that, because you don't suddenly become a bad side.
"Speculation about people is not the right thing to do – it's about getting on with it and getting back to where we used to be and improving. We're going backwards, not improving, and we've got to get back to improving.
"I can't see how we can go from Bedford to Sunday's disastrous performance – because there is no other word for it. It was disastrous and unacceptable, and if we continue to do that, we can't tolerate that as a club.
"I've spoken to Steve (Lansdown) and, obviously, Steve is as disappointed as anybody else. He's having a tough time with his football club (Bristol City) as well, so there's a lot of pressure on him. We've got to try to take some of that pressure off as far as the rugby's concerned, because we're under-achieving – there's absolutely no question about that – and that is not acceptable."