Middlesbrough boss calls on fans ahead of Birmingham City clash

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka.
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka.

AITOR Karanka has called on unity between the Middlesbrough fans and players if they want to have a successful season, writes CHRIS BELL.

The Spanish boss has long since praised the Riverside faithful and believes they can have an integral part in the club achieving its aims.

The Championship season begins at home against Birmingham City tomorrow (kick off 3pm), an occasion that Karanka wants his team to excite the spectators.

“It’s good for us to start at home because we have to show the fans from the very first second that we want to do well this season,” he told BBC Tees.

“It’s going to be a difficult season, I know that.

“We are going to have difficult moments but we have to be together as much as we can.

“I know how excited the fans are (for the season to begin) and we are too.”

Boro finished last season on a high, winning six of their last eight games, which installed optimism going into the new campaign.

Karanka, though, is already well-versed in the unpredictable nature of the Championship.

He carried on: “We finished last season in a good way but football, the Championship, you never know.

“The best thing would be to win the first three games (Birmingham, Oldham [League Cup, A] and Leeds [A]).

“We have to work in the same way at all times and not become complacent when we win one game and not become upset when we lose one game.”

Lee Clark’s Blues only escaped relegation to League One on the last day of the season – a feat that is sure to spur them on.

“They will use that experience and will want to do things better and arrive at the end of the season with an improvement from last season,” Karanka said.

“They felt last season how hard it is to stay in the Championship.

“I am expecting a difficult game.”

Boro are not expected to sing any more players in time for the season opener but the £1.5million move for Adam Clayton appears to have hit an obstacle – despite agreements all but finalised.

It is thought that Huddersfield want an immediate replacement for the loss of the 25-year-old and with Jacob Butterfield reportedly not wanting to join the Terriers, the West Yorkshire club have temporarily halted the Clayton transfer.

Osasuna right-back Damie Abella, a La Liga winner in 2004 with Barcelona, is set to move to Teesside in the coming days.