Steve McClaren saluted the performance of the debutant Gaizka Mendieta as Middlesbrough collected their first Premiership point of the season in a goalless draw with Leicester City at the Walkers Stadium on Tuesday.
The Spanish international Mendieta only received international clearance to play four hours before the kick-off after joining Boro for an initial season-long loan period. He took little time to demonstrate that he could have a key part to play at the Riverside Stadium as Boro bounced back with a determined performance after the 4-0 home drubbing by Arsenal on Sunday.
McClaren said: "It was a pleasing debut. In the dressing-room afterwards he was a bit shell shocked and it was 'welcome to the Premier League' for him.
"I think he had played only one 90 minutes all pre-season so it was tough for him. But I think he showed great quality out there - and his attitude and work-rate was also good. I think he can only get better.
"Everyone could see that he will be an even bigger handful when fully match fit. You could see he is prepared to take shots from distance and you can see him getting quite a few goals in that way."
Boro's midfielder, George Boateng, was in agreement with his manager. "We have lots of players who can battle hard but we also need a touch of class," he said. "We have that in Juninho but Mendieta brings that extra to the team. The whole of the Spanish nation will now be watching Middlesbrough because of him. We need players who can make others play better.
"He did well the other night against Leicester but he also has to get to know how we play - and vice versa."
McClaren was less happy with the fact that he was unable to play the on-loan Leeds defender Danny Mills because of red tape. Mills' transfer had been registered with the Premier League at 5.15pm on Friday, but because Monday was a bank holiday it was deemed that he was not eligible to play against the Foxes.
But McClaren was happy with the players' display: "I was delighted with the reaction of the players, especially after Sunday's performance. To get a clean sheet away from home is always the aim.
"It looked as if the team were never going to get beat tonight and that sort of attitude is important especially when we go away from home."
The Leicester manager, Micky Adams, was also in an upbeat mood despite his side having failed to cash in on their territorial dominance, but he spelt out the need to find the necessary goal power for the Premiership.
He said: "It was very encouraging. We dominated the game, created some chances, looked confident, defended soundly and once again the effort couldn't be questioned.
"But there is always a but... and the but is we need to score goals. I'm sure they will come but they've got to come from within the squad because we haven't millions of pounds to spend.
"But I've been very pleased by the three performances so far and we've not let ourselves down at all."
Adams will decide in the next 24 hours whether the striker Les Ferdinand is to undergo an exploratory operation on a knee problem which has kept him out for the last two games.Reuse content