Tony Pulis says he knows how to get Boro back on track next season after their play-off charge fell short against Aston Villa.
Boro were tasked with making Championship history at Villa Park – no side had ever made the play-off final following a first-leg home defeat.
Ultimately, it was a piece of history that will continue into another season as Boro failed to overturn a one-goal deficit, with Villa’s 1-0 aggregate victory ensuring they will face Fulham at Wembley.
Amid the disappointment is the expectancy of rigorous change in the summer, but Pulis is remaining level headed about any future plans and is keen to stress he will not be knocking down Steve Gibson’s door.
“This is a fabulous football club,” said Pulis. “It’s a ‘to-do’ football club – everybody wants to help and try to get the football club going forward.
“I’ve been to clubs where it’s very insular, and people are looking after themselves and are not really worried about where the club goes as long as they’re okay. This club is not like that, this club is a real to do club.
“Everybody pushes and pulls in the right direction, so we’ve got a chance. What we have to do is put a team on the pitch that justifies the great support we’ve got, and the people who work at the club. The next task ahead is to see if we can improve it.
“I know what we need, and I know what’s necessary. It’s just a question of whether we can do it now. I won’t waste Steve’s money, I think he’s spent an absolute fortune. I won’t be wasting his money. If we can get better (players in), then we’ll get better. If we can’t, then the players have shown over the season that they’re close.”
One improvement Boro need to make is more quality in the final third – an aspect of their game that has been a downfall of theirs for quite some time, and something Pulis bemoaned after the game.
“Over the two games, I think there’s been periods where we’ve been on top and dominant, but in those periods, we’ve not created the opportunities and the chances you need to win big games,” he said. “Over the two legs, it’s been a set-piece that’s been the difference between us.
“We’ve got into two or three good positions, but not made the most of them. We’ve had opportunities, but we’ve got to turn those opportunities into chances, and turn those chances into goals.
“If you analyse the two games, we’ve had good spells, but we haven’t created enough chances, or taken the chances when we’ve created them. That’s the difference. Villa are a stubborn, well-organised, experienced team. It was always going to be tough, but the players have worked so hard over the two games. They’ve given absolutely everything.”
Meanwhile, George Friend insists Boro will bounce back from the defeat to Villa and come back even stronger next season.
“We’ve stumbled at this hurdle, but I have to admit we’ve been here before. Even all the way to Wembley, losing to Norwich.
“I remember saying then we’ll be back, because that’s what we do on Teesside – and the following season we went and got promoted. I have no doubt we’ll start next season with the same positive attitude.”