Middlesbrough boss keen to avoid the tension

Aitor Karanka
Aitor Karanka

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka believes that tension from the Riverside stands is negatively impacting on his side.

Boro travel to strugglers Milton Keynes Dons tonight (kick off 7.45pm) where they will be targeting a first win in four.

He’s a scorer and amazing for everybody.

Their recent troubles, which have seen them lose two and draw one, have reduced their lead at the top of the Championship and they now find themselves in second place, joint-level on points with Hull City.

Such is the appetite for promotion on Teesside, the home crowd during Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Blackburn was tangibly frustrated.

“I think so,” Karanka said when asked if the atmosphere affected his players.

“I heard some comments form the players in the dressing room afterwards but I am here to take that pressure. When they are confident, they show how good they are.”

Karanka, though, strayed away from criticising the home faithful and instead showed an understanding of their woes in recent years.

His aim is to reverse their misfortune and return their club to the Premier League come May.

He added: “It is a long time since the fans have lived in this situation so I can understand why the fans are desperate to get promotion.

“But no less than the players or me. But we have to manage the situation.

“We are in February and are in a privileged position so we have to kepe working together.”

Jordan Rhodes came on for the final 15 minutes against his old club on Saturday, but is expected to start at Stadium:MK tonight, where a Boro win would move them top of the league once more.

Ritchie de Laet also made his debut in the draw with Blackburn, also earning praise from Karanka.

“Ritchie, if he wasn’t the best (player on Tuesday), he was one of the best.

“Jordan, it was his debut, he did well and with him on the pitch we are always going to have danger.

“He’s a scorer and amazing for everybody. But I don’t want to put pressure on him.

“He’s come to a team playing in a completely different way. He has time and the best thing for him is to play calm.”

And after the recent results, Karanka remains positive. “They are all motivated and I am expecting a good game tonight,” he said.