Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka says that Saturday’s performance against Stoke proved that they have a players capable of impressing in the Premier League.
Boro dominated the first half at the Riverside, Álvaro Negredo opening the scoring, heading home Gaston Ramirez’s cross. But the visitors equalised through a brilliant Xherdan Shari free-kick to secure a 1-1 draw.
Karanka – who must now focus on this Sunday’s visit to Sunderland – refused to be down on the issue of letting a lead slip, rather focusing on the positives and the way in how his squad adapted to the demands of the top flight in their first outing.
“I can’t be disappointed, especially with our performance and with the attitude of the team,” the Spaniard said.
“It’s true that maybe we should’ve won the game, but we can’t forget that three months ago we were playing in the Championship and they had finished ninth in the Premier League, so, for that reason, I’m more than pleased.
“We had six or seven players who were playing their first game in the Premier League, so it’s been good for me to know that we’re ready once again. We showed that.
“We are in the Premier League and now we have to take advantage in every situation as the opponent always will.
“We played against Stoke and their four players up front – Shaqiri, [Marko] Arnautovic, Bojan and [Mame] Diouf- they are all quality and with one free-kick they scored.
“We have to take our chances but also enjoy this.”
Negredo’s header in the 11th minute was a happy return to the first tier for the Spaniard after a less-than-happy spell at Manchester City three seasons ago.
“It’s important for Negredo to score, as when we signed him I said that he needed to recover his confidence,” Karanka added.
“A player who won the Premier League two or three years ago with Man City can’t forget to play – so for us, it’s an amazing signing.”
Fellow new signing Marten de Roon, meanwhile, is expected to be out for a month after coming off injured early on Saturday.
Middlesbrough: Valdes, Nsue, Barragan, Gibson, Friend, Clayton, de Roon (Forshaw 22), Adomah, Ramirez (Nugent 88), Downing, Negredo. Subs not used: Konstantopoulos, Rhodes, Fischer, Baptiste, Stuani. Booked: Downing, Ramirez, Forshaw. Goal: Negredo 11.
Stoke: Given, Bardsley, Shawcross, Wollscheid, Pieters, Imbula, Whelan, Shaqiri, Krkic (Allen 78), Arnautovic, Diouf (Walters 69). Subs not used: Muniesa, Adam, Cameron, Crouch, Haugaard. Booked: Shawcross, Given, Bardsley, Wollscheid, Arnautovic. Goal: Shaqiri 67.
Att: 32,110. Ref: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).