Monk’s former club Middlesbrough ruined both his birthday and his first game in the Blues dugout with a 1-0 win at St Andrew’s thanks to Patrick Bamford’s seventh goal in four games.
Monk said: ‘It was a tight game and we were unfortunate with the goal. We dominated the second half but couldn’t quite get the equaliser.
‘I was very happy with the commitment, desire and passion displayed by the players.
‘There are things to be worked on in terms what has been happening over the last two years. No one could dispute the desire of the players to do well in the game.’
Monk’s hopes of a winning start disappeared when Bamford notched a 39th-minute goal to lift Boro into the play-off positions.
It also left their hosts in the bottom three but Monk said: ‘I have a group of players who can improve and from what I have seen I have the belief in our last 10 games we can achieve what we have to achieve.
‘There is a lot of encouragement from the performance against Middlesbrough and the team showed they are going to fight to the end. It is all about building the confidence in the team.
‘We limited a very good and potent side as we controlled long spells. The talent is in the side but it is also about getting points, which are so vital at this stage of the season.’
Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis was delighted with the win and said: ‘I never thought there was a time in the game they would score.
‘I was pleased with the resilience of the lads as it was a difficult game for everyone.
‘It was difficult with a new manager taking over Birmingham who was the last manager of Middlesbrough before I stepped through the door.
‘You usually get the bounce effect with a new manager so it was always going to be tough for us. It was a great result for Middlesbrough.
‘Going into the game we had scored nine goals in three games and we had been very potent going forward. I thought we had a lot of opportunities and I thought Stewart Downing could have scored a hat-trick.
‘There are 10 games to go and we must not take the foot off the pedal as there are no easy games in the Championship.’
Pulis paid credit to match-winner Bamford, saying: ‘Patrick is a good player and he has real quality.’