Middlesbrough are still 'miles from being safe', insists Neil Warnock following victory at Stoke City

NEIL WARNOCK is not getting carried away after enjoying a winning start to his Middlesbrough reign and has warned that his side are still "miles from being safe".

OPENER: Ashley Fletcher is congratulated by Patrick Roberts after scoring Middlesbrough's first goal at Stoke City. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.

Boro beat Stoke City 2-0 at the Bet365 Stadium on Saturday afternoon, but remain just two points clear of the bottom three in a relegation battle that looks set to go down to the wire.

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Warnock will begin preparations for a crunch clash at Hull City on Thursday but he was delighted to pick up three points on his return to management.

AT THE HELM: Neil Warnock enjoyed a winning start to his Middlesbrough tenure. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.

"It is why I am still in the game, I love trying to make players better than what they are," reflected Warnock on his first week back in the game.

"When people take on board what you are telling them, I have missed that and the banter around the dressing room. That is the best part of the job.

"It is a great result today but we are miles away from being safe.

"We have just got to concentrate, recover and then look towards the Hull game."

Goals either side of half time from Ashley Fletcher and substitute Marcus Tavernier helped Middlesbrough to earn a vital three points, while Dejan Stojanović's heroics at the other end kept the Potters at bay.

Warnock added: "I thought we deserved to win. We could have put the game to bed by half time. It was nice to get the second goal.

"I think the lads have enjoyed it, nobody likes it when a manager leaves but you just have to get on with it, especially with eight games to go."

The Middlesbrough manager was delighted with the commitment from his players in the latter stages of the game, as they kept only their second clean sheet in 12 outings, despite plenty of late pressure from the home side.

"You never know in football, I have been to clubs and lost the first two or three games. You have still got to stick with your principles," said Warnock.

"I would have been quite happy today whatever the result because of the way we played.

"I am just happy to get the goals. What I really liked was how we died at the end to keep our goal intact.

"The way we flung bodies in the way and headers, that is what I like about footballers."