Middlesbrough boss Karanka still angry at mistakes, but calls on strikers to take responsibility

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AITOR KARANKA is still angry with his Middlesbrough side after they conceded a late goal against Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend - but has called on his attacking players to take responsibility too.

Karanka feels that his side would have been five points better off than they are now had they not conceded late goals against Brighton, Birmingham and Derby in successive games, with Matthew Upson’s winner for the Seagulls condemning Boro to their third defeat under the Spaniard.

But the former Real Madrid coach believes that if his strikers take their chances, then late goals - which he attributes to a lack of concentration - would have no effect on the result.

“That was my fifth game here and we’re always losing points in the same way. I don’t want to say that they are just defensive mistakes, because if we scored two or three times in the second half we’d have won the game 2-1 or 3-1,” said Karanka ahead of his side’s trip to Millwall tomorrow.

“I’m angry with the situation. When you lose games because you play badly, or the opponents are better than you, you can accept it, but when you lose the same way, always, you get angry.

“We need to improve because we could have had maybe four, five or six points than we do now, which would mean we would have been further up the table.

“The mistakes are a matter of concentration. You have a job, to mark one player, that’s your player. It’s difficult. We’re trying every day to improve their concentration, but to eradicate the mistakes during a game is something different.”

The former Madrid and Athletic Bilbao centre-half added: “It’s not psychological. It’s concentration. You have one player to mark, I was a defender, when the coaches told me this was my man, he was my man. When you are a striker and you have a clear chance you have to score the goals too. We are training every day to improve the concentration, the strikers must score more goals too.

“When we have the ball and have the chances we need to take them.”

Tony Mowbray lost his job at Boro for similar reasons, and while Karanka is under no such pressure, he feels the buck doesn’t stop with the manager.

“I hope the players feel responsibility,” he said. “With these mistakes we are losing a lot of games. I think it’s the responsibility of everybody.

“In training, you can make a mistake, say sorry, and move on. In the last game, we had 60-70% possession and played well, yet they scored and we lost. The most important thing is the result.”

Approaching the halfway point of the season, Boro are 13 points from the play-off places and three away from the drop zone. Karanka accepts that the table does not make good reading but is taking it one game at a time.

“I sat here on the first day and said that the most important game was the next game,” said Karanka. “We are closer to the bottom team than we are to the top, but we need to improve.

“I prefer to think about the Millwall game, then after that the Boxing Day game. I’m sure the way we are working here, the results will look after themselves.

“It’s important to get a good result, just as it was against Brighton and Birmingham. We go to Millwall to win.”

Shay Given returns to parent club Aston Villa on January 2, but Karanka has repeated his wish to bring the former Republic of Ireland international back to the Riverside Stadium after the transfer window opens.

“We are working on it,” said Karanka, who is still without the injured Jason Steele. “He is happy here, we are happy with him, he brings lots of experience on the pitch and off it. For us he is very important, I would like to keep him here, but it all depends on Aston Villa. We’ll see.”

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