Ryan Lowe said his side’s first-half performance in the defeat against Middlesbrough was nowhere near the levels which he expects.
Preston North End were three goals down by the 37th minute, with Isaiah Jones scoring twice and Rav van den Berg also getting on the scoresheet.
Freddie Woodman was required on a few occasions to keep the scoring down, before Alex Bangura then scored a fourth very late in the day.
Ryan said: “I’m very disappointed. We can’t have performances like that in the first half because you’re not going to win games of football and you’re not going to get where you want to get to. We stressed that to them.
“We had some conversations in there which will stay in there. I’ll back them through thick and thin.
“They’re my players; I pick them. I’m not going to slag them off. They know that the first-half performance wasn’t good enough, individually and collectively, so that’s up to me to make sure we put that right.
“Overall I’m disappointed with the performance in the first half especially because that’s not what we represent.
“We represent a fanbase that want more than that and I apologise to the fans because the first-half performance was nowhere near good enough.”
Four changes were made from the weekend’s defeat to Cardiff City, with Alan Browne and Duane Holmes falling victim to stiffness and therefore were rested and not used off the bench. Liam Millar missed out through injury.
The manager felt that those who did start, though, feared the hosts somewhat after they opened the scoring, and they went on to score goals which Ryan admitted were avoidable.
It’s the second successive visit to the Riverside this year which has ended in a 4-0 defeat.
“Boro are a good team,” Ryan said. “They’re not where they were last season, and that’s no disrespect.
“Michael [Carrick] is a fantastic coach and you can see the way they play and the patterns of play, but my team needed to be better.
“Forget their team, we gave them the respect we give every team, but we shouldn’t fear anyone.
“When the first goal went in we had a bit of fear in ourselves and that’s not the case. We are a different team to what we are last season so I didn’t expect that result today.
“I can take getting beat in the right manner and in the right way, but I can’t take getting beat in the first half.
“We were nowhere near the levels and that’s something I’ve got to address and make sure we put right.”
Ryan's full interview will be available to watch on iFollow soon.