Middlesbrough must regain old form demands Aitor Karanka

BORO BOSS: Aitor Karanka. Photograph by FRANK REID
BORO BOSS: Aitor Karanka. Photograph by FRANK REID

AITOR Karanka has demanded his Middlesbrough team recapture the form of a month ago to play their way back into the play-off race.

Boro have drawn their last two games 0-0, upping the pressure on them ahead of Saturday’s home game with Blackburn. Middlesbrough had won five games from six between December 21 and January 18 as they stormed into the promotion mix.

“We need to recover the pressure we had before because this way is not right for us,” said Karanka.

“We must recover our style and our work. Then we will hopefully see the team we saw a month ago.”

The January transfer window saw him trim the squad down.

Marvin Emnes left for to Swansea City on loan while Faris Haroun joined Blackpool on a free transfer with several younger members departing on loan deals.

“I have what I wanted at the beginning, a squad with 21, 22 players plus the goalkeepers,” said Karanka who also clinched several notable incomers on deadline day.

Danny Graham, who started his Boro career as an 18-year-old, re-joined on loan from Sunderland, along with Lee Tomlin, on loan from Peterborough.

Graham, now 28, has suffered barren spells with Sunderland and Hull City, after a fruitful career outside the Premier League with Carlisle United, Watford and Swansea City

Karanka said: “Danny is a player who can score goals. He could be very important for us.

“He was one of my first choices at the beginning of the January window.”

The Spaniard also has high hopes for Tomlin, who is initially on loan from League One Posh with a view to a permanent transfer.

The 25 year-old midfielder netted 43 goals in 156 appearances in three and a half years at London Road following his move from non-league Rushden & Diamonds in August 2010.

“He is a number 10 and he is a player who will score us a lot of goals,” Karanka told BBC Tees.

“He can play up front in every position and he has a good goalscoring record.”

Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Doncaster Rovers left Boro nine points off the play-offs in 12th place in the Championship.

“Currently I am thinking of making changes,” added Karanka.

“I don’t know how many players but this is normal when you are not happy with the performances.”

Meanwhile, Boro’s U21 side lost 2-1 at home to Stoke City in yesterday’s Barclays Premier Reserve League.

Hartlepool-born prospect Ryan Brobbel was outstanding for Boro, but they could only score once, through Wilson Kneeshaw.

Defender Seb Hines played the full 90 minutes as he comes back from a knee injury and Stuart Parnaby played the first half in his first game since the death of baby daughter, Poppy.