WHETHER the Spanish have a phrase similar to ‘resting on your laurels’ or not – it certainly will not be something that Aitor Karanka is probably aware of.
The former Real Madrid No 2’s Middlesbrough side may sit top of the Championship pile for Christmas, but the 42-year-old is staying remarkably grounded.
That was crystal-clear when midfielder Adam Clayton revealed that Karanka had issued a rollicking to his Boro side at half-time of the Teessiders’ impressive 3-0 victory at promotion rivals Brighton last weekend – widely perceived as one of the strongest all-round displays by any Championship side this term.
Karanka’s high standards and unwillingness to tolerate any sign of complacency whatsoever are legion, with the fact that he found cause to pick some fault on Saturday representative of that.
A continuation of the club’s tough December, which carries on today at Blackburn Rovers, where the visitors are set to be backed by a huge travelling army of around 6,000 – is also a good reason as to why Karanka is keeping focus.
Two days later, Sheffield Wednesday are due in at the Riverside, while Derby County head to Teesside for an eagerly-awaited summit meeting on January 2.
Karanka said: “For us, it is now time to keep going.
“We have a tough game against Blackburn and then after that we can start to think about the game on Monday.
“If we look back, we had Birmingham, Burnley and Brighton and to finish that week with seven points, especially with the performance we had in the first 30 or 35 minutes against Birmingham, was excellent.
“If you go to Blackburn and lose the game and teams like Derby, Hull and Brighton win, the table will be very tight again. We have to be focused on our games and keep going.”