Aitor Karanka: Middlesbrough are in an 'amazing' situation
Aitor Karanka insists Middlesbrough are in an "amazing" position as they attempt to book a trip to Wembley and stave off relegation from the Premier League.
Boro's head coach has spent the last few days preparing for Saturday's daunting FA Cup quarter-final clash with Manchester City having seen his promoted side slip into the relegation zone for the first time as a result of last weekend's 2-0 defeat at Stoke.
The Spaniard's most vociferous critics have called for his head, although he is confident he retains the backing of chairman Steve Gibson as he looks to accomplish his season's mission - to retain the club's top-flight status - while enjoying the bonus of an extended cup run.
Karanka said: "It can be amazing, but it can be amazing especially to realise how good a moment we are living. When someone tells me we are in an awful situation, for me, to be in the Premier League, to be in the quarter-finals, is an amazing situation.
"It's true that we are in the relegation positions, but it is the first time we have been in that position since the league started.
"For a team like us, we knew that was going to happen. We just have to try to win and show everybody that we are in a really good moment."
Boro welcome City to the Riverside Stadium having drawn 1-1 at the Etihad Stadium in November, but without a league win in 10 attempts since December 17, a run which has seen them score just three goals.
Indeed, their only victories since the turn of the year have come in the FA Cup against lower league Sheffield Wednesday, Accrington and Oxford, and while Karanka knows something has to change, he does not subscribe to the theory that he must rip up his masterplan and start all over again.
He said: "We just have to work on the pitch and work on their confidence because they have shown they can do it."
Boro dumped City out of the cup in January 2015 when goals from Patrick Bamford and Kike at the Etihad saw them claim a famous scalp, although Karanka admits they can no longer rely on the element of surprise.
He said: "At that time, we were a surprise for everybody and we are not a surprise now. One of the keys this season is nobody expected our level in the first part of the season and for that reason, we added a few points.
"Now, everybody knows that we are a really organised team, we are a really good team and now it's difficult to surprise them because all of them know it's going to be a tough game against us."