Middlesbrough must accept they're in a relegation battle, says defender Manu Pogatetz after Saturday's defeat to Aston Villa.

"We have to face it, it's going to be tough this season," he said after Middlesbrough conceded three soft goals in 13 minutes against Aston Villa on Saturday. "We can't hide from the threat of relegation.

"Our goal has always been to be in the top half of the table, but if you look at the way we're playing at the moment you have to say it will be an achievement if we stay up this season. Everyone has to look at that and the supporters have to stay behind us. It will be tough if they turn on us. Everyone can see it will be a hard season."