Tony Pulis was impressed with his first look at his new Middlesbrough team – but has warned his new employers not to expect miracles in the remainder of the season.
Pulis watched from the main stand as second-half goals from Martin Braithwaite and Britt Assombalonga secured a 2-0 Championship win over Bolton yesterday.
The 59-year-old, dismissed from his previous job at West Brom in late November, replaces Garry Monk, who was sacked less than four hours after overseeing a victory at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
Monk left a club in the top 10, but, while Pulis will be tasked with securing Boro an immediate return to the Premier League following last season’s relegation, he accepts it will be a challenge to make it out of the second tier. “I’m not going to turn water into wine,” said the ex-Stoke manager.
“I have to make sure that I have a good look at the place before I start making any predictions.
“What I will say is that there was some very good play from us at times. I liked the attitude in the dressing room at half-time too – it was very good.
“The club is ninth in the division (at the start of the day), but if everything at the club was spot on and working well, I wouldn’t be here talking. Garry still would be.
“There are problems, and there have been problems here. It’s just about finding out what they are.
“The best thing we can do is get this club winning again, get the team winning, and get back in the Premier League, but that does take time.
“For me to stand up after being here for 12 or 13 hours (and talk about winning promotion), it’s too much to ask.”
Boro deservedly claimed the lead four minutes after the break. Jonny Howson released Braithwaite into the penalty area and the Dane looped home a shot via a deflection off former Boro centre-half David Wheater.
Braithwaite turned provider in the 67th minute, releasing Assombalonga down the left-hand side. The striker cut infield to take on Wheater and claimed his 12th goal of the season as he drilled a crisp finish into the bottom right-hand corner.
Bolton boss Phil Parkinson said: “We had a good result at the weekend against Cardiff, and it will have taken something out of us.
“This was always going to be tough, but we’ve just got to regroup and pick ourselves back up for Sheffield United at the weekend.”
Middlesbrough: Randolph, Christie, Shotton, Gibson, Da Silva (Friend 46), Howson, Leadbitter, Downing, Bamford, Braithwaite, Assombalonga (Gestede 70). Subs not used: Konstantopoulos, Ayala, Baker, Traore, Tavernier. Booked: Howson, Braithwaite. Goals: Braithwaite 49, Assombalonga 67.
Bolton: Alnwick, Little, Wheater, Beevers, A Taylor (Robinson 36), Pratley, Henry, Noone (Buckley 62), Vela, Ameobi, Madine (Wilbraham 77). Subs not used: Cullen, Armstrong, Burke, Turner. Booked: A Taylor, Beevers, Wheater.
Att: 29,443. Ref: Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire)