Belfast Telegraph

Aitor Karanka tells Middlesbrough to reset and start again

Aitor Karanka has told Middlesbrough they must start their season all over again if they are to keep their Premier League survival mission on track.

The top-flight newcomers have been far from daunted by life among the big boys during the early weeks of the campaign and have collected five points from the first nine on offer as they look to ensure they remain exactly where they are.

However, Karanka has warned his players things could change markedly in just a few weeks if they do not hit the ground running once again after the international break, starting with Saturday's visit of Crystal Palace to the Riverside Stadium.

Asked if he would have taken that start if offered it back in August, the Spaniard replied: "I don't know. We knew we had three important games and for that reason, we needed to have the squad as soon as possible.

"We knew that games like West Brom, Sunderland - maybe not Stoke - but all of them were our rivals in the league and for that reason to be in the table with five points is really important for us.

"Now it's Crystal Palace and there are another three points [at stake] and now we are in a really good position.

"But I don't have to forget in one week, two weeks, everything can change. For that reason, we have to forget the past, we have to focus on the next game, and then on the next one and the next one."

The Boro squad has been boosted further since the club's last outing, a 0-0 draw at West Brom, with Calum Chambers having arrived on a season-long loan deal from Arsenal and Adama Traore on a permanent move from Aston Villa, completing an overhaul which has given Karanka a range of options.

He admits that presents him with a selection headache and the task of keeping players who are not in his team happy, although he insists he wants those men to be upset.

He said: "It's my job and it's the most difficult thing, to try to have all of them happy because I don't want players in my team who are not playing and they are happy.

"When you are not playing, you have to be upset and you have to be always trying to play.

"But it's my job. When I sign players, I sign good players and good people, I try to explain to them why they are not playing and why they are playing."

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