Karanka will not accept negativity in Middlesbrough’s Premier League race

STILL SMILING: Middlesbrough's manager Aitor Karanka
STILL SMILING: Middlesbrough's manager Aitor Karanka
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DITCH the pessimism and be optimistic.

That was Aitor Karanka’s rallying call to Middlesbrough fans as he looks to take the Teessiders to the Premier League.

It’s difficult to achieve something when you are negative


The head coach used his pre-match media conference ahead of the home game with Rotherham United tomorrow to explain how he can’t fathom the negative vibes around the Riverside.

Easter Monday’s 2-0 defeat at Watford knocked Boro off the summit of the Championship with just five games left, prompting some fans to worry that they have squandered their automatic promotion chances.

Boro go into tomorrow’s clash with the Millers at the Riverside in fourth place, two points shy of leaders Bournemouth (kick off 3pm).

Yet Karanka was irate when pressed on the mood situation, defending his side’s transformation since he took charge in November 2013 and reiterating that the season’s original aim was to reach the play-offs.

“I have been here 16 months and sometimes I can feel that the atmosphere is not positive,” he said.

“For example, when we were in November and December everyone expected Middlesbrough to go down (the table) because in the past Middlesbrough in January and February always went down.

“When we played Nottingham Forest on Boxing Day (a 3-0 win) everyone was expecting defeat because everybody said Boxing Day it is when the turn happens and the team always lost.

“I won manager of the month and the following game we would lose, apparently.

“Imagine if I had signed the contract when I came here (and said that) every single day (I would be) thinking we were going to lose on Boxing Day and after my award.

“It’s difficult to achieve something when you are negative.

“I can’t understand in this position how people can be thinking pessimistically.”

He did not relent, adding that while automatic promotion to the Premier League is the priority, having to settle for the play-offs should not be deemed as failure.

“As soon as I signed my contract here I was thinking about how to play in the Premier League with Middlesbrough,” he said.

“This is my job and my duty and I am working every day to get it.

“At the beginning of the season the objective was the play-offs and now we are in a very good position.

“We can get promotion in the play-offs,

“I work every day to get promotion directly but we can see what happens.”

Regardless if he succeeds in changing fan perceptions, he is sure that his side are on song.

He went on: “All of us, especially the players, are optimistic.

“We need to be positive but know how difficult this league is.

“Another important thing is to work with the right people and here I have the right club, the right staff, the right players, and we have everything and for this I can’t understand this negativity at times.

“Always, a negative atmosphere and I think we have changed that for the next five games.

“When I see ‘we’ (I mean) the players, the club, the crowd – everyone has to be together.”