TOM Cleverley thinks Middlesbrough are a "really promising side" - and namechecked three players in his Boro praise after Watford's defeat at the Riverside.

Cleverley is keen to see Boro do well because of his close links with his former Manchester United teammate Michael Carrick.

Watford's boss admitted the best team won at the Riverside on Saturday, with Boro 3-1 victors thanks to Emmanuel Latte Lath's first half strike and late goals from Alex Bangura and Isaiah Jones.

And Cleverley believes his side were beaten by a team who are well equipped to be in the promotion mix next term.

"They're a really promising side," he said of Boro.

"They have some good young players but the balance with experienced Championship players is key, players like Ayling, Clarke. I really, really like the centre-forward (Emmanuel Latte Lath). They have good tools."

Cleverley also believes Boro have a superb head coach, who he learnt from as a young player at Manchester United.

He said: "He's got a calmness. He doesn't act on emotion, he acts on pure process and strategy. He was a fantastic ball player in possession and you can see that in his team, the rotations, they all know they have to try and get on the ball.

"But his temperament, he was one of those guys in the dressing room that didn't speak much but when he spoke the room fell silent and I'm sure he'll carry the same weight now.

"I have a great relationship with Michael. For three years we played in the midfield together up there. He's a classy guy, class player, class coach."


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In tipping Boro for a promotion tilt next term, Cleverley hopes his Watford side will also be ready to compete at the top end again after a disappointing 15th-place finish this time around.

"I certainly hope so," he said.

"I think I've got the tools if we keep our more important players and add a bit of youth and excitement on loan.

"I'll be keeping our feet firmly on the ground and we know we have to improve to be in that mix but I hope so.

"You can never predict this league. Who would have said Ipswich would be in the conversation? There could be surprise packages, a new top coach coach be unearthed, it's the most difficult league in the world to be successful in.

"Consistency is the key to doing it. When I got promoted as a player, we weren't the best team in the league but we were probably the most consistent.

"I think it's very naïve of me to say it could be easier. This year has been strong, preparing for games this year has had my head spinning at times."

Boro were worthy winners on Saturday, and Cleverley said: “I’ve no complaints with the result.

 “I thought they just showed more personality with the ball than us. They stayed calm and played around us which made it difficult.

“I’ve told the lads that’s something for me to address because I feel we are nowhere near unlocking the potential of this team in possession.”