Talking Tactics

'Karanka looking to build on Boro's solid foundations'

Adrian Clarke 5 Aug 2016
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Adrian Clarke says Spaniard will enjoy challenge of leading Middlesbrough in top-flight return

The start of the 2016/17 Premier League season is just days away, and English football's top flight will welcome five managers who have never worked in the division before.

Ahead of the big kick-off, Adrian Clarke assesses each debutant's philosophy, and what is on their 'to do' list. After Watford manager Walter Mazzarri, next up is Aitor Karanka of Middlesbrough.

Karanka, the man who has efficiently masterminded Middlesbrough's revival, is a coach who enjoys plotting game plans to negate the strengths of opposition teams. Meticulous in his preparation, the Spaniard is a tactical thinker who will revel in the opportunity to pit his wits against the best.

His mindset is primarily a defensive one. Boro will be well-drilled, expertly organised, and mentally strong.

"In Spain we say, 'to build a house you must start with the floor'," Karanka told journalists last season, before adding: "I like to start without conceding goals and then when we have quality up front to score we are going to win a lot of games. It’s very important for me that we don’t concede goals."

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Karanka says Gaston Ramirez can become 'even more important' for Middlesbrough in 2016/17

Shipping only eight times on home turf from 23 home matches in 2015/16, Middlesbrough's players are not in the habit of offering up gifts. The club's active pursuit of one more experienced central defender shows just how important they view solidity.

There are only two question marks that hang over the 42-year-old ex-Real Madrid man.

Can Karanka find the right formula inside the final third? And how will he cope if results do not go their way?

With the likelihood of more dropped points to deal with at a higher level in 2016/17, his response to setbacks will play a huge part in how the players perform.

A strong advocate of 4-2-3-1, it would be surprising to see Karanka deviate from that formation too often, so finding the correct attacking blend is the key conundrum he faces ahead of the season.

Loan signing Alvaro Negredo may have been below par at Valencia but he scored 23 goals for Manchester City during the 2013/14 campaign. His pedigree is a huge plus. It's behind him, that we are likely to see greater experimentation.

Providing Karanka can develop a trio from Cristhian Stuani, Albert Adomoah, Stewart Downing, Adam Reach, Gaston Ramirez and Viktor Fischer that clicks well as an attacking force, I don't believe Middlesbrough will need to look over their shoulders too often.

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