Karanka urges positivity as Boro eye cup lift and survival

Adlene Guedioura drives in a shot for Middlesbrough in last week's goalless Premier League draw with Everton. Picture by Tom Collins.
Adlene Guedioura drives in a shot for Middlesbrough in last week's goalless Premier League draw with Everton. Picture by Tom Collins.
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Aitor Karanka has vowed not to let history repeat itself as he attempts to steer Middlesbrough to cup glory and Premier League survival.

Twenty years ago, Boro reached both the League Cup and FA Cup finals with a star-studded side built around Juninho, Fabrizio Ravanelli and Emerson.

However, a replay defeat by Leicester after a 1-1 draw at Wembley and a 2-0 reverse at the hands of Chelsea saw them twice fall at the final hurdle, and worse was to follow when the club surrendered its top-flight status at the end of an eventful 1996-97 campaign.

Today, Boro entertain League One Oxford with a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals at stake, but sitting just two points clear of the drop zone and, while head coach Karanka will allow both his players and the fans to dream, he will not take his eye off the ball and risk a similar mistake.

He said: “I like – and I think I have done it since I have been here – to change those type of things. It’s impossible to win two titles, but why can’t we win the title (FA Cup) and stay in the Premier League?

“We just have to be positive, to dream if we can dream, especially about a title knowing that the first aim is to survive and to stay in the Premier League.

“If someone had asked us if we would have signed up to be in this position in pre-season, I think everybody would have signed.

“To be outside the relegation positions, in this round of the cup and especially showing the performances that we are showing every single game, you have to be positive.”

Boro have eased through with home victories over Sheffield Wednesday and League Two side Accrington.

Although both were hard-fought wins, Karanka is taking nothing for granted this time around against a side which thumped Newcastle 3-0 in round four.

He said: “In my second season here, it was Manchester City and Arsenal and this season, it has been Accrington and Sheffield Wednesday and now Oxford.

“But we have to be really, really careful because it’s going to be a tough, tough game, especially if we don’t go on to the pitch with the right attitude.”

“We have the experience in the last round when we went on to the pitch thinking that it was going to be an easy game an we had problems against Accrington, and our opponent beat Newcastle 3-0, so it’s going to be a tough game.”