“WE need to get back to winning ways. We need three points.”
That is Aitor Karanka’s message to his Middlesbrough players – loud, bold and clear.
Tomorrow’s 12.15pm kick off against Leeds United will not be an easy task, the Lillywhites are 12th in the Championship but have proven in recent weeks their attacking potency.
Stats, though, are irrelevant to the Spanish boss – what is of importance is that Boro curtail their barren form in front of goal and replicate training ground intensities on the pitch.
“Since I have been here the training has been very good but the problem is the games,” the forever-honest manager told BBC Tees.
“We are not playing as well as I want and for this we need to recover our intensity because after the Watford game I said that we have players who think are better than they are.
“When we play 100 per cent we can beat the important teams in the league.
“We don’t go to the games with the same intensity as we did one month ago.
“It’s an important game, we need to win our home games and score goals.
“We are five games without winning a game and we need to get back to winning ways.
“We need three points.
“I am sure the goal will arrive and then the second one and the third one.”
Goalkeeper Shay Given will be playing his last game for Boro with his loan deal expiring after the match.
Karanka praised the Aston Villa veteran’s impact on Teesside but challenged his four remaining shotstoppers to stake their claims to replace Given.
He went on: “He was tremendous on the pitch and in the changing room, a professional.
“We were lucky to work with him.
“We are losing a keeper and a person but the first second Shay isn’t here I have four keepers to choose from.
“Jason (Steele) needs to recover his confidence because he hasn’t played for three months and challenge again.
“There will be a chance for one of them.”
Midfielder Lee Tomlin, who had his loan from Peterborough turned into a £1.5million permament deal this week, will play some part in the televised match but not for the entire duration.
“He won’t play 90 minutes,” Karanka said, “because he hasn’t played for three weeks but he can play for 60, 70 minutes or 10, 20 minutes to show everyone what he can do for us.”