Aitor Karanka is convinced he retains the backing of Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson despite a run of 10 Premier League games without a win.
Boro have slipped into the bottom three as a result of their barren run and Karanka held talks with Gibson ahead of Saturday’s home FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester City.
Just as worryingly for Boro is a dry spell in front of goal that has seen them fail to score in four straight league games, but under-fire boss Karanka is not feeling the pressure as he seeks to orchestrate a turnaround in fortunes.
“I don’t need to hear critics because even when everybody said I was the best, I was my first critic,” Karanka told reporters on Thursday. “I am starting my career and every situation is new.
“I have to learn, modify and know the things I can improve. Now I have to try and bring the best from my players and I have to give them all my confidence.”
— Middlesbrough FC (@Boro) March 9, 2017
Karanka met with Gibson following a 2-0 loss at Stoke City last weekend, but insists talk of the FA Cup was their main priority.
“We spoke about the amazing opportunity to go to Wembley,” Karanka said. “This is a positive thing. We need to think about the positive things, like being in the Premier League and to be in the semi-finals. The most difficult moment for me was when I arrived here but he was the first one who transmitted his confidence. I don’t need to feel that [confidence] every day.
“I need to work on the confidence so I’ve shown the players videos of them playing really well, like the Arsenal game. We had a lunch with the players and all the staff. The main thing is everybody is on board.”
— Aitor Karanka (@Karanka) March 9, 2017
Karanka suggested the switch from league to cup action will be a boost for his out-of-form side, who have only reached the final of the FA Cup once, in 1996-97, when they were beaten by Chelsea.
“I think we have a really nice game to play on Saturday because it’s the cup, not the league,” Karanka said. “We have to remember how good we were two weeks ago and keep going, keep believing.
“I think the last two weeks have been really bad. Before those weeks we played for example against Everton and competed. We had the chances to win the game. We need to recover that level.
“To be in the Premier League and in the quarter-finals is an amazing position. Yes, we’re in the relegation zone but only for the first time this season.”