Middlesbrough boss thrilled to have fought back from the brink

Grant Leadbitter battles against Bournemouth's Dan Gosling in the recent Boro win at the Riverside. Pic by Tom Collins

Grant Leadbitter battles against Bournemouth's Dan Gosling in the recent Boro win at the Riverside. Pic by Tom Collins

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Aitor Karanka has admitted that his position as Middlesbrough manager was creeping towards becoming untenable just last month.

Boro went into the game against Arsenal four weeks ago on the back of a 1-0 home reverse to Watford, their seventh successive game without a win.

The Teessiders, however, upset the odds to draw 0-0 with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, and Karanka’s side have since beaten Bournemouth 2-0 and secured a last-minute draw away to Manchester City.

Sunday’s home game against Chelsea (4pm kick-off) represents another chance for Boro to surprise the Premier League’s elite, but it is a game that Karanka feared he might never have the opportunity to manage in.

“If we had lost to Arsenal, Bournemouth and Manchester City, what would have happened to me?” he questioned this week.

“I don’t know. If results are bad we know what is possible (the sack).

“Sometimes, when things are going well, it is all down to the club and the players. When it isn’t going well, it is the coach.

“Being the fifth longest-serving manager (in the Premier League) after three years is a reflection of how tough it is. But I am so lucky with the chairman I have here.”

Steve Gibson’s decision not to give the Spanish boss a vote of confidence or summon him for talks about his future further underlined the strong working and personal relationship the duo have.

Although Karanka has courted interest from Spain, he doesn’t believe that there any many other clubs who support their manage like Gibson does.

“Right now, I feel it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find another club like this because of the relationship I have with the chairman,” he added.

“In Spain, there are not many clubs like this one. Maybe Athletic Bilbao, but you cannot always find clubs like Bilbao or Middlesbrough.

““Here, the chairman is my friend and I do not think there are many managers in the Premier League who are able to call their chairman a friend.

“In the worst moments, knowing you have that relationship, that is when it really means something special.”