Aitor Karanka insists he knew from the first time he saw Diego Fabbrini that he would be a great addition for Middlesbrough.
The on-loan Watford midfielder had a stunning debut on Saturday, scoring from 25 yards and setting up two more for Kike as the Teessiders romped to a 3-0 win against Bolton.
The attacker is already looking like he will be a fan favourite at the Riverside, and ahead of tonight’s trip to Derby County, Karanka says he wasn’t surprised by the quality the one-cap Italian internatioanl showed – having been impressed by him in loan spells at Millwall and Birmingham last season.
“I knew since the first second we played against him last season,” said Karanka.
“When I was analysing Millwall and Birmingham I could feel how good he was and how could he can be.
“When you are a quality player and you arrive at the right place and with the right players, it’s good for him.
“One thing he told me was that this step could be important and he could improve in the team.”
Karanka takes on another former Real Madrid No 2 tonight, Paul Clement, who is now in charge of Derby.
The Rams have struggled so far this season, while Boro’s season exploded into life in the first half against Bolton on Saturday.
Karanka isn’t taking anything for granted, hwoever.
“I said after the game that it had been amazing, and everything was almost perfect,” said Karanka.
“The players were joking with me as I didn’t know what I could say at half-time because they were perfect, so this is a good example at what we can do and how capable we are to play games like that.
“But that’s gone, sometimes you have to learn from the good things and the bad things, and we have to know we can play in this way. We have to forget it as soon as possible as Derby will be completely different.
“When good players are arriving into a good environment then it’s better for everyone. The players that are here and players that have arrived, like (Stewart) Downing and Fabbrini, they’ve been training together for two or three weeks and they looked like they’ve been training together (for a long time).
“The quality of the squad is good but we have to keep going in the same way.
“Last season we played 55 games so all of the (players) are going to have games to show everybody how good they are.
“For that reason they have to be ready at the right moment.”