Middlesbrough v Blackburn: Karanka happy with strength of Boro squad

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka
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Aitor Karanka believes he has improved his Middlesbrough squad immeasurably as he looks to kick on in his second year.

Head coach Karanka has overseen an up-turn in Boro’s fortunes, with the club at the sharp end of the promotion hunt.

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka.

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka.

It is a stark contrast to the second half of last season – his first in charge – when Boro were so limited they at one stage went seven games without scoring a goal.

“At the moment, I am very pleased with my squad,” said the Spaniard.

“I came in one year ago and I know how difficult this part of the season can be. But we have a much better squad now than we had at the same time of last season.

“We have much better players, and more players than we had then. Maybe things will change between now and January, and I will be sitting here saying we need one or two players. But at the moment, I don’t think we are going to need that.”

A long-term strategy with his recruitment has been at the root of his side’s success.

“When I manage a team, at the start of the season I like to have a squad that can last the whole way through. That is how I like to manage,” said Karanka.

“When we talked about who we would sign in the summer, we talked about building a squad and were thinking about finishing the season with that same squad in May. Now, all of the players are doing really well, not just the players who are playing, but also the players that are not in the team.

“It is amazing to have players like (Jelle) Vossen, Milos (Veljkovic), Yanic (Wildschut) or Dean (Whitehead) who are not playing. When you look at the bench with 10 minutes to go, you see players who can change the game. That is as important as the first XI.”