Chris Wilder insisted that he felt nothing but immense pride for Middlesbrough following their FA Cup defeat to Chelsea at the Riverside Stadium.
Boro exited the competition at the quarter-final stage with a 2-0 defeat on Saturday. The Championship side had their moments, especially in the second half as they chased the game.
However, Chelsea’s two first-half goals from Romelu Lukaku and Hakim Ziyech were the difference.
Blues boss Thomas Tuchel explained how his side learned from the mistakes Manchester United and Tottenham made against Middlesbrough earlier in the FA Cup.
Indeed, Boro’s cup run came to an end after two Premier League scalps, of which Wilder expressed his pride.
“I’m just immensely proud of the football club and the way we’ve handled ourselves on this cup run,” the manager told his side’s official website. “Today, there’s a load of positives to take out of it.
“I thought the support that we got… we’re 2-0 down after 30 minutes against the world champions and European champions and it’s a long night for everybody, most importantly for the supporters.
“They really drove us on. Unfortunately we didn’t give them anything real to shout about. There was a lot of effort and committed boys in there.
“I thought we played ok for the majority of the game, we just didn’t find the big moments. They found the big moments, we can be a touch critical, but you’re up against what you’re up against.
“They’re [Chelsea] top players who play through the press when we try to, counter-attacked incredibly well and find that final run, pass, cross and finish that gave them the opportunity to take the wind out of our sails.”
Middlesbrough‘s focus now turns to the race for promotion to the Premier League. They sit eighth in the Championship but only two points off the play-offs.
What’s more, only four points separate Boro and Luton in third. And Wilder urged his side to channel their performance against Chelsea for the run-in.
Wilder wants more from Middlesbrough
“I’ve just said to the players, they’ve [Chelsea] done enough at 2-0 to sit in and then they counter on us which makes it difficult,” he said.
“But we got into some fabulous positions. Hopefully in the run-in, when we get into those positions, we’ll show a little bit more patience, belief, courage and quality to hurt teams.
“It’s an eight or 10-team mini-league, nine games to go and we’re right amongst it. Even though we’ve got beat in the cup, you see the results today.
“Some teams win when they were expected to, some teams lose that were expected to win. We’ve just got to keep calm and hold our bottle and nerve.
“If we do, I think we’ve got enough out there that can win games between now and the end of the season.”
Middlesbrough play Peterborough away in their next match after the international break.