Aitor Karanka has same mentality as mentor Jose Mourinho as he attempts to drag Middlesbrough to Premier League safety

Aitor Karanka insists he has the same mentality as mentor Jose Mourinho as he attempts to drag Middlesbrough to Premier League safety.

Thursday, 2nd March 2017, 2:59 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:46 am
Jose Mourinho keeps the ball away from Boro defender Ben Gibson, as Aitor Karanka watches on with a smile on his face (Photo: PA)

The Spaniard cut his teeth as a coach under Mourinho at Real Madrid before stepping into the limelight on Teesside in November 2013.

On Sunday, the Manchester United boss added the EFL Cup to the Community Shield his new employers collected in August to counter the critics who were less than impressed by his start at Old Trafford.

Karanka knows exactly what makes Mourinho tick and is adamant that he is driven by the same forces as he looks to keep Boro out of the relegation zone, a process which will continue at Stoke on Saturday.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

He said: “I was with him for three years.

“We are different, but the mentality that we have about our job is the same.

“We think 24 hours per day, 100 per cent every day about our job.

“At the beginning he was criticised and, at the moment, he has two titles in his pocket.”

The pair, who will go head-to-head at the Riverside Stadium on March 19, still speak on a regular basis, and Karanka admits that the advice he receives from one of the game’s highest-profile managers is invaluable.

He said: “Always, especially in this situation, when you have help from your friends, it’s good.”

Any help Karanka can get at the moment will be welcome with Boro perched perilously above the relegation zone only by virtue of goal difference and having not tasted victory in nine league games.

Indeed, they have managed only four three-point hauls all season with 10 draws illustrating that they are difficult to beat, but find it difficult to win.

However, their head coach, who also has an FA Cup quarter-final clash with Manchester City looming, is refusing to set targets simply because of the division’s unpredictability.

He said: “With the performances we have had in the games we have played, I could have now 32 points on the table.

“But the reality is that we have 22, so now it’s Stoke, three points, then the cup and then Manchester United and the international break, so three points against Stoke would be really important for us.”

Karanka could be forgiven for allowing the pressure to get to him, but he remains confident that his methods will pay dividends during the run-in.

He said: “I am used to living with the pressure. You can take the pressure when you are doing everything. I would have more pressure if I went home every day thinking I could do more, maybe if I changed this or I changed that.

“When you are doing your best, you just have to trust your job.”