AITOR KARANKA insists that today’s opponents Fulham were always likely to come good, the Boro head coach insisting it was always a case of when and not if they would improve.
The Londoners are getting their act together following an awful start to the season under Felix Magath, who paid the price after a winless eight-match winless streak at the start of the season when he was sacked.
Caretaker-manager Kit Symons has steadied the ship, with today’s game seeing ex-Leeds players Ross McCormack, a former Boro target, and Matt Smith make their first return to Yorkshire.
Karanka, who has Albert Adomah and Dean Whitehead available again following suspension, said: “I have the same thoughts about Fulham now that I had at the start of the season.
“They will be in the highest positions. Now, they are playing how everyone expected them to.
“In the past they have had problems, but now they are playing like the squad they are.
“Most of them are Premier League players and it is going to be a difficult game, but sometimes when we play against those kinds of teams we play better.”
Karanka admits Boro’s yellow peril is representing a concern in the early sparring of the campaign, with Daniel Ayala having already served a one-match ban for picking up six bookings.
Captain Grant Leadbitter is also one caution away from an automatic one-game suspension.
Karanka, critical of his side’s mentality in the midweek draw with Blackpool, said: “I told the players to try and avoid getting silly cards, because in this league every single detail is important.
“One mistake is important. One stupid yellow card might not be important in that game, but if you have three or four, it will become important. I try to tell them everything.”