West Ham v Middlesbrough: Boro boss Aitor Karanka demands a brighter start and a repeat of second-half Spurs fightback

Gaston Ramirez gets up to head clear for Boro in last week's defeat to Spurs. Picture by Tom Collins.
Gaston Ramirez gets up to head clear for Boro in last week's defeat to Spurs. Picture by Tom Collins.
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Middlesbrough have to start strongly at West Ham in tomorrow’s crucial Premier League clash, otherwise they will struggle to return from the capital with any points.

That is the view of Boro manager Aitor Karanka, who is demanding that his side begin the match better than they did in last Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Tottenham.

Carrying on the positives from the second half of the Spurs defeat is also crucial. He said: “It’s always important to start the game well.

“If you don’t start well it’s difficult to change your mindset. I try to transmit (to the players) every day of the importance of starting well.

“The starting point this week has to be the second half against Tottenham.

“We showed we can compete against a Champions League team who were fighting for the title last season.

“The team was completely different (in that second half). The second half the tactics were the same because we had worked all week to play against Tottenham.

“The attitude was different. With that attitude we scored and could have scored another.”

The Spaniard isn’t worried that Boro have only won once in their first six games back in the top-flight.

However, he wants to go into the fortnight international break on the back of a positive result, not returning to action two months since their last win. “It’s true we’ve lost three games but our start was really good,” he added.

“We just have to keep improving and to keep growing. Again we have a few players who have Premier League experience. The only thing that is good for us is that we have a few international players which shows we have good players.”

Meanwhile, West Ham will launch an investigation into their players’ night on the town after the visit of Boro.

Manager Slaven Bilic told his squad to go out for the evening on Monday but pictures surfaced on social media the following day of striker Andy Carroll and goalkeeper Darren Randolph, with users suggesting the pair appeared drunk.

The snaps have infuriated Hammers fans with the club languishing in the Premier League relegation zone having lost five of their six matches this season.

Boss Slaven Bilic admits he is worried by their dreadful start to the season.

“I am concerned. It’s a very bad start,” he added. “It’s not only about football then. If it’s like that then people start talking about non-football things that are happening. It’s not only that.

“If we are talking about the last five Premier League games then it’s simply not the way we expected it to be, it’s definitely no good.”