Karanka has created ‘winning mentality’ in year at Middlesbrough

GOOD POSITION: Aitor Karanka.
GOOD POSITION: Aitor Karanka.

AITOR Karanka has been praised for creating a “winning mentality” at high-flyers Middlesbrough as he celebrates his first year in charge.

On this day last year chairman Steve Gibson announced the Championship club had appointed its first foreign manager, as Karanka took charge at the Riverside replacing Tony Mowbray.

One year on and he has transformed the squad bringing the likes of Kike, Patrick Bamford, Jelle Vossen, Adam Clayton and Lee Tomlin to Teesside.

With one of their strongest squads in years, Boro are now on course for a return to the Premier League after a five-year absence.

Boro sit third in the Championship table, just one point off leaders Derby County, as the sides take a break for the international fixtures.

The club’s Under-21 manager, Paul Jenkins, has heaped praise on the impact Jose Mourinho’s former Real Madrid No. 2 is having at the club.

“The Premier League is the promised land and it is where we want to be,” Jenkins told SportMail.

“The manager has certainly done his homework and the team has been very effective this season.

“We are in a good position in the league and as a result of that there is a winning mentality around the football club.

“There is a big togetherness.

“The Under-18s and Under-21s are in a good position too and as a result there is a strong bond at the club at all levels.

“Everybody knows they have to work hard and the manager has set that tone around the place – players and staff.”

Jenkins was speaking to SportMail after seeing his side beat Hartlepool United 2-1 in the Final Third Development League Cup group match at Boro’s Rockliffe training complex.

Boro’s second string have won all three matches in the league cup group stage and sit just one point off the top in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League Second Division.

Jenkins believes the togetherness of the squad is helping get results on the pitch.

Watching on from the sidelines were several of Boro’s first team players, cheering on their younger colleagues.

Jenkins added: “All of our first team players came to watch the reserves and that is a really good sign that there is a strong and a positive workplace at Middlesbrough at the moment.

“That comes from the top down and the manager has created that environment.

“We all know our jobs and we are trying to develop players for the first team – or to develop players who can secure a career in football elsewhere.”