Situation critical for Tony Pulis, with West Bromwich Albion now facing a desperate 72 hours to strengthen their squad after this lifeless stalemate.
Pulis is running out of time to make new signings and all of Albion's deficiencies were exposed at the Hawthorns as Middlesbrough easily secured a point to maintain their unbeaten start.
The second lowest spender in the window so far, Pulis wants at least five new players and is preparing for a frantic finale to ensure his squad are not heading for a relegation battle.
Albion are functional and committed but lacking in creativity or attacking threat and managed only two shots on target in an excruciating afternoon.
Saido Berahino's future also remains uncertain and he was booed by the home supporters when he was introduced as a second half substitute. Stoke remain interested in striking a £20million deal and negotiations are expected to continue on Monday.
Yet after a humiliating cup defeat at Northampton in midweek, the mood is already fractious and pressure is building on Pulis from supporters. The boos at the final whistle are threatening to be the soundtrack of the season unless changes are made.
With only one permanent signing so far, and his bid to sign Southampton's Jay Rodriguez on loan likely to fail, Albion will be burning the midnight oil before Wednesday's deadline.
"We need new blood now and I think the players need to see a few players coming in," said Pulis.
"We're the top team in the West Midlands and that's where we want to stay – to do that we need to get some players in.
"We need it all the way through the pitch. It's an old team, as I said last year, and we need quality and some legs. The board know my feelings and it won't need boos at the end to tell them [what we need].
"It's hopefully going to be a busy few days for this football club. There’s 14 or 15 players who were here two years ago when we were struggling near the bottom who are fantastic and work so hard but we need to freshen up."
With Jeremy Peace still the majority shareholder, despite the £170million takeover by Guochuan Lai, it is unclear how much money will be available but this proved that a shake-up is sorely required.
Sam Field, 18, was given his first league start while Berahino was benched with Pulis claiming he was not in the right frame of mind and admitting he will be “a topic of conversation” over the next few days.
West Brom did start brightly, with James McClean denied by Brad Guzan, but the game soon became scrappy and devoid of incident.
Middlesbrough's return to the Premier League has been impressive under Aitor Karanka and much of the gameplan revolved around striker Alvaro Negredo. The Spaniard had been involved in all three of Middlesbrough's goals so far this season but was starved of any quality service.
The first shot on target finally came in the 38 th minute, with West Brom's new loan signing Brendan Galloway shooting straight at Guzan.
Craig Dawson headed a Matt Phillips corner wide midway through the second period but with the game slipping further into mediocrity changes were inevitable.
Jonathan Leko, a teenage forward, was introduced before being then replaced by Berahino due to an injury, yet it was Middlesbrough who ended the game stronger.
Cristhian Stuani's shot from ten yards was saved by Ben Foster while Daniel Ayala should have done better after a goalmouth scramble nine minutes from the end.
Middlesbrough are now unbeaten in 13 games and do not appear overawed by the rarefied atmosphere of the Premier League.
Karanka said: "Our position in the table [sixth] is a reflection of everyone's job here.
“It was a difficult game for both of us but a point is massive because in the Premier League every game is tough. To have five points on the table is good and we’d have taken that. Maybe today wasn’t the best performance but the spirit was there. That’s important.
“I am pleased with the job the club has done because we had pre-season with almost all the squad. We have worked well but even with new players we are compact. As a manager you are always expecting a surprise near the deadline. Part of that surprise is that sometimes other clubs ask for our players. But I am really calm. The club has working and ready if something happens.”
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