TONY Mowbray admits he may need to add a bit of nous up front if his new-look Boro side are to achieve promotion to the Premier League.
Middlesbrough gave debuts to five summer signings as they started the season with a steady but unspectacular 2-1 win at League One Bury in the first round of the Capital One Cup.
Former Newcastle and Real Madrid stopper Jonathan Woodgate made a second bow for home town team Boro after his summer return to Teesside from Stoke.
There were first competitive outings for ex-Doncaster defender George Friend, one-time Sunderland midfielder Grant Leadbitter, who was signed from Ipswich, winger Mustapha Carayol from Bristol Rovers and former Walsall front man Emmanuel Ledesma after a determined summer recruitment drive by Mowbray.
Goals from last term’s top scorer Marvin Emnes and Argentinian new boy Ledesma either side of the break had put the Teessiders on top, but the managerless Shakers clawed one back to set up a nervy finish for the Teessiders.
With the Championship campaign kicking off at Barnsley next weekend, Mowbray accepts he still needs to fine-tune his squad if he wants to improve on last season’s seventh spot.
He said: “We did alright and we won the football match, but I sat there at the end and thought it is still a bit young and inexperienced around the top end of the pitch.
“We will try and address that if we can.
“We do have experience elsewhere in the team now with Jonathan Woodgate, Leadbitter, Kevin Thomson and Rhys Williams.
“So we have something to build on and scope still to work over the next few weeks and if we feel we can add something we will.”
Mowbray refused to comment on reports he was closing in on Chelsea midfielder Josh McEachran.
He added: “There’s nothing to discuss really. The boy is a talented player but he is a Chelsea player so let’s just say that is still just speculation. Things like this will run their course.”
With so many new faces it was inevitable rebuilt Boro would be jittery.
They dominated for long spells but failed to make their possession and chances count and while new boys Carayol and Ledesma showed flashes of promise they struggled to find a final killer ball into the box.
The breakthrough, as so often last term, came through Dutch destroyer Emnes.
Leadbitter pushed a quick free-kick into the speedy striker’s path and he raced to the edge of the box and lashed in a superb opener.
Ledesma added a second on 61 minutes, reacting quickly to crash home the rebound after Nicky Bailey’s piledriver had been fumbled.
Bury clawed one back on 64 minutes as Mark Hughes lost Rhys Williams at a corner to head home and then familiar jitters appeared as Boro had a stuttering spell and scares before regaining control.
Mowbray was just happy to have got through and avoided a potential upset.
He said: “It was a tough start to the season and you’d have to say Bury played well. They asked us difficult questions.
“We did the job and I thought we did it well. Concentration, apart from one occasion from a corner kick, was good, we looked solid enough and we were always a threat going the other way.”
BURY: Carson; Andrai Jones, Sodje, Hughes, Skarz, Sweeney, Schumacher, Carrington (Marshall 64), Worrall, Bishop (John-Lewis 77), Elford-Alliyu (Cullen 68). Subs (not used): Belford, Picken, Lockwood, Craig Jones.
Sent off: Sodje (90). Goal: Hughes 64.
MIDDLESBROUGH: Steele; Hoyte, Rhys Williams, Woodgate, Friend, Bailey, Thomson, Leadbitter, Carayol (Reach 46), Ledesma (Luke Williams 63), Emnes. Subs (not used): Ripley, McManus, Halliday, Main, Park.
Goals: Emnes 33, Leadbitter 61.
Attendance: 2,964. Referee: Mick Russell (Hertfordshire).