Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick has admitted his side had problems with Preston North End playing through Ben Whiteman on Saturday afternoon.
North End returned to action for the first time since the 4-2 defeat at Blackpool this weekend.
Middlesbrough were the visitors and they had a new man in the dugout.
Michael Carrick took charge of Boro for the first time having been appointed as their new manager earlier in the week.
Some three weeks on from sacking Chris Wilder, Boro finally had a new manager in place with Carrick landing his first permanent managerial job.
The former Manchester United and England ace will have been thinking that his side were getting off to the perfect start with Chuba Akpom opening the scoring.
North End came back though and a powerful finish ensured that the two sides went into half-time level at 1-1.
Both sides went for the winner but lacked real quality before PNE came up with the winner as Jordan Storey headed home in injury time.
PNE fans are of course delighted with a win but Carrick has to head back to the North East empty-handed.
That’s not the ideal start to his managerial career and Carrick highlighted the influence of Ben Whiteman during North End’s first-half display.
Carrick has told The Gazette that he felt Middlesbrough ‘had an issue’ because North End were playing through Whiteman at the base of Ryan Lowe’s 4-3-3 setup.
Whiteman operated deep with Alan Browne and Ali McCann shuttling ahead of him before being hooked in favour of Ryan Ledson in the second half.
Carrick knows all about dictating the game from that kind of position so made a real effort to try and limit Whiteman’s influence in the second half, believing his side got to grips with Whiteman after the break.
“They (Preston) played well in the first half, and caused some problems,” said Carrick. “We changed a few things at half-time, and I was happy with the second half. I wasn’t happy totally, but I was happier with the way we improved, seeing the boys play with a bit more belief and confidence. It was good to see.
“We had an issue with a lot going through their deep midfielder. I thought we got to grips with that second, but because of that the other boys had to cover a bit more space. But we identified that and the boys dealt with that well in the second half. We spoke about it and half-time, flipped that and I thought the boys were doing well and looking dangerous,” he added.