TONY Mowbray was restrained in his celebrations and respectful in his post-match comments.
But no-one should be in any doubt how much he enjoyed last night’s Capital One Cup victory at Sunderland, or how much he realised it meant to Middlesbrough fans who have had little to cheer in recent seasons.
At the end of the game, with Boro’s fans having been kept behind, he made a point of quietly poking his head around the tunnel before coming out to acknowledge the cheers of the fans and applaud their support.
“I’m delighted for the team and the supporters,” he admitted.
“It was one for the fans – you could hear how happy they were, how delighted they were.
“I don’t think we gave as good an account as we could have done last season against Sunderland in the FA Cup, so this was great for them.
“And I’m sure they headed down the A19 in fantastic spirits.
“The cup is all about getting into the next round and we have done that and made a lot of people on Teesside happy.”
Mowbray and Middlesbrough’s victory was a triumph for team spirit, tactics and no small amount of self-belief.
“I think it was a decent performance,” said the Boro boss.
“We had a game plan – we came to try to frustrate because we know they’ve had problems scoring and we also came get at them, too.
“We didn’t come and park the bus.
“We looked a threat, looked as if we could score and I’m happy with the team’s performance, but we have to move on and look at our next fixture.
“It’s our fifth win on the bounce and we’re looking OK, considering the injuries we’ve got.
“We’ve got some pretty good players and we’ve started well.
“We’ve got a good group who like each other’s company and like coming to work and training with each other and that’s an important thing for when the bad days come along and you need each other.”
There was sympathy for his opposite number.
“I have total respect for Martin and his team,” said Mowbray.
“They have some very good players and I’m sure he’s scratching his head as to why the team hasn’t scored more goals.
“They’ve got attacking prowess, they’ve got players who can score goals and should be scoring goals.
“But, on the other side of it, they’re defensively very, very strong – as they proved at Stoke – and I’m sure Martin will solve his conundrum.”
As for Boro, they go marching on ...
“We shouldn’t fear anyone in the cup, no matter who we get,” he sniffed, with the quarter-final draw tonight.
“This draw was a difficult one for us, we were away from home and Martin played a very strong side – so this was as big a test as any.
“We’ll just take who we get in the next round and look to give them a tough game, like we did Sunderland.”