Boro here to stay, as Karanka awaits Premier League opener against Stoke City

Aitor Karanka
Aitor Karanka
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Middlesbrough begin their first Premier League campaign in eight seasons against Stoke City tomorrow – and intend on remaining in the top flight for many years.

Aitor Karanka’s side entertain the Potters at the Riverside (kick off 3pm) in their first top-flight game since 2009.

While Karanka is pleased with his squad he has assembled during the summer – and is still working to add one or two more – he is keen to emphasis that the aim is survival, before focus can turn to progressing in future years.

“The aim for us is to stay in the Premier League, to build the foundations and to be here long-term,” the Spanish manager said.

“We’ve worked really hard for the last six years to get here.

“It’s been a tough few years and we can’t make the mistake that we can do more than we can.

“As a manager, when I came here the team was just above the relegation positions.

“For everybody it’s been a dream, so imagine what it’s like for me. We need to keep the dream going.

“Our squad is much stronger than last season, but we have to be careful as not many have Premier League experience.

“Football is about the team and we need to work together to get in a good position.

“It’s a challenge for me but a good challenge for this football club.

“After seven years, the club is in the Premier League, the club is back on the map.”

In the fiercely-competitive world of Championship football, mistakes are punished frequently but not always; in the Premier League, errors almost always lead to concessions.

“One important thing is I know now we are in the Premier League that one mistake can be important in a game,” Karanka added.

“In the Championship, we had better squads than other teams and could win games, but now one mistake against better teams could be punished.”

Stoke, managed by Mark Hughes, have been in the Premier League since 2008 and are a team that Boro should be looking to aspire, Karanka says.

He said: “On Saturday we play a team who finished in the top half last season, but we want to be here. Stoke can be a good example as they’ve built their foundations.”

Meanwhile, Jonathan Woodgate, released by Boro in May, has joined Liverpool as a scout to focus on recruiting players in mainland Europe, and it is thought he will be based in Spain.