Tomorrow will mark three years since Aitor Karanka succeeded Tony Mowbray as manager of Middlesbrough FC.
To celebrate, let look back at three memorable years, which has seen Boro finally back in the Premier League and pick out my three favourite matches so far from his tenure.
3. Middlesbrough 3-0 Brentford (2014-15 Championship – 2nd leg play off semi)
I have picked this match as my third favourite match because it not only sent the team to Wembley, but it also demonstrated how far Karanka had brought the club in just his first full season as a manager.
The team played excellent football and earned Karanka a deserved trip to Wembley. Leadbitter, Clayton and Tomlin passed the ball around brilliantly and the way Brentford were opened up demonstrates that Karanka is one of the best tacticians out there.
Karanka also recognised that this match could of been Woodgate’s final appearance for his hometown club, so to bring him on as a sub when the side were on a roll towards full time is a class of respect for a club legend.
2. Manchester City 0-2 Middlesbrough (FA Cup 4th Round, 24th January 2015)
This match surely has to be high in every Boro fan’s memories. To go to the Etihad and get a 2-0 victory over the then reigning Premier League champions is some feat that many minnows dream of.
The team put in a fantastic performance and for Karanka to get his first victory over a top flight side must of boosted his confidence significantly for the rest of that season and beyond.
Middlesbrough might be struggling now due to Karanka’s lack of top flight experience as a manager. If it wasn’t for this confidence bolstering win, we could well be in the relegation zone right now and Karanka out of a job.
Many will say that Boro benefitted from Manchester City playing a midweek fixture in the Middle East then a flight delay home, but Karanka still didn’t let that affect how he set up his side.
Our defensive record really helped him set up the team nicely for the first half before turning thee screws after half time to get the win.
- Middlesbrough 4-1 Ipswich Town (Championship, 14th March 2015)
I was lucky enough to be at this match which was just outstanding to watch.
This match is my top Karanka match because it had everything that a Middlesbrough fan expects of the team put out on the pitch.
The start was just brilliant to watch and that first goal clearly gave Karanka’s men the belief to run away with the match. Darryl Murphy’s equaliser didn’t dampen the team spirit and they pushed on with Adomah nabbing the second heading into half time.
The second half was by far Karanka’s finest half as a Boro manager. The start wasn’t as frantic as the first half but the side really put in a shift and the way Bamford was able to get the ball then run down to the Ipswich end leaving the defence in his wake not once but twice were just magical to watch from the stands.
If wondering why I haven’t picked any of his matches from the 2013-14, 15-16 and current season, it’s because Karanka really delivered his best performances as a Boro manager in the latter part of the 2014-15 season.
Feel free to leave your top Karanka moment below in the comment box on Facebook.