JUBILANT head coach Aitor Karanka has told Middlesbrough’s players they deserve to play Barclays Premier League football next season after booking their place in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final.
The Teessiders cruised to a 3-0 semi-final, second-leg win over Brentford in front of a bumper crowd at the Riverside Stadium on Friday night to seal a 5-1 aggregate victory which sends them into a Wembley showdown with either Norwich or Ipswich on May 25.
It’s a big step for everybody, for the players, for me, for the club, for everybodyAITOR KARANKA
Karanka will allow his players to enjoy their success for a couple of days, but on Monday, he will turn his attention to a game which could be worth as much as £150million to the winners.
The Spaniard said: “The first thing I think about is the money, but it’s not just about the money, it’s about these players because these players deserve to play in the Premier League.
“I think a few of them have played in the Premier League and after 10 months working with them, all of them deserve to play in the Premier League.
“It’s a big step for everybody, for the players, for me, for the club, for everybody. But again, we have to prepare for the game the best we can.”
Boro’s victory was set up by Lee Tomlin’s expert first-half strike, but cemented after the restart by Kike and Albert Adomah as the Bees fell by the wayside for the eighth time in play-off football.
He said: “I don’t have words enough to say ‘thanks’ to my players.
“I said a long time ago they all deserve the best and once again, everybody saw they are an amazing team, they are amazing lads, they have amazing spirit in the changing room and I have to say ‘thanks’.
“I have achieved a lot of things as a player – the Champions League and leagues and everything – but I didn’t have the opportunity to play at Wembley and they have given me that opportunity.”
Season card holders for the current season and next season have priority on all Wembley tickets today, with the prices ranging from £36 to £98 across the five categories.
Boro Pride members can then purchase their tickets tomorrow from 10am and they, like season card holders, can buy up to ten tickets.
Tickets go on general sale on Monday morning at 9am.