AITOR KARANKA admits he envisaged Middlesbrough being in a better position than the one they currently inhabit when he took over at the Riverside a month ago.
The Teessiders were 16th when Karanka was installed as Tony Mowbray’s permanent successor, and have subsequently slipped another two places ahead of this afternoon’s game with Brighton.
The Spaniard has garnered four points from his four matches in charge, a tally that would have been considerably higher had his side not conceded last-minute goals against both Derby and Birmingham.
He had hoped to average more than a point a game, and admits the ratio needs to improve significantly if Boro are to haul themselves back into promotion contention in the remainder of the season.
“I would have hoped to have had more points,” said Karanka. “And that would have been possible if we had not lost three points in the last seconds of the games.
“We also lost the first game at Leeds with only ten players. The four games have come very quickly, with three of them away. Now, we need to win at home.
“I am worried about our position because it is not a good position to be in. I have been around a month now and when I first came, I spoke about getting promotion or to the play-offs.
“We have played four games and only taken four points. That is a worry, but I will carry on working like I have from the first day because I am sure that if we keep on working in this manner, the results will arrive.”
Today’s opponents, Brighton, are eight points clear of Boro in the standings, and like their opponents, boast a Spanish manager at the helm.
Oscar Garcia spent six seasons at Barcelona before joining Valencia and Espanyol, and played alongside Karanka when the pair represented Spain at the Olympic football tournament in Atlanta in 1996.
“Brighton are a good team,” said Karanka. “I know their manager because I played with him for Spain and knew him when he played for Barcelona, although I can’t remember whether our paths crossed in a Clasico.
“I have a good relationship with him and he is doing a very good job here. He has many Spanish players and likes to play good football.
“I think our styles are quite similar because we are both from Spain. But he has been able to build his team from the beginning of his reign – I arrived with a squad pretty much finished.”
That squad has not looked like promotion contenders since this time last year, when they entered the festive period in a top-three position.
Their decline in 2013 has been marked, and has shown no signs of being reversed under Karanka, but the Boro boss insists he was always aware of the scale of the task he was taking on.
“I knew what the size of the job was going to be, and that has not changed,” he said. “It is the same job. It is no different in just two weeks. I need to learn the league quickly – the teams, the players, a lot of things. But this is my new job. It was my decision and I am happy working here.”