Aitor Karanka defends Middlesbrough’s late, late show in Wembley defeat to Norwich City

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka aims to finish the job he has started at the Riverside. Picture

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka aims to finish the job he has started at the Riverside. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Aitor Karanka defended Middlesbrough's bizarre late Wembley arrival and insisted it had no bearing on Norwich City's play-off final win.

The Teessiders arrived at the stadium only an hour before kick-off after requiring a police escort to weave through the traffic.

Karanka revealed after the game it was his decision to avoid a prolonged build-up, prior to the Teessiders' heart-breaking 2-0 defeat.

'It is not the first time, so that is not why we lost,' he said. 'We did it before Brentford and won 2-1 so that is why we did it. Sometimes if the players are in the changing room a lot of time (before kick-off), there is more pressure, so we prefer to go to the pitch for the warm-up. We met some traffic, but that wasn't a problem because we knew we were in London so we knew what we would face.

'I want to congratulate Norwich for getting promotion, but I am so proud of my players, my chairman and club. When I arrived here 18 months ago the team was two points above relegation, with only 13,000 people at the Riverside (Stadium).

'Here we saw that we are a Premier League club (for our supporters) and it is my job to take them into the Premier League again. When you make mistakes it is difficult to win games, but I prefer not to speak about the mistakes because we achieved to play here at Wembley as a team, so we win as a team and we lose as a team.'

Karanka also insisted he was right to play on-loan Chelsea forward Patrick Bamford, after the striker had struggled with an ankle problem in recent weeks.

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'If I decided to put Patrick on the pitch, it is because he was 100pc fit,' he said. 'I was speaking with him, and I decided that he could play 90 minutes, or even 120 minutes if it was needed. He played 90 because he was ready to play, and I thought it was the best for the team.

'In a final, if you make a mistake, you will pay for it. But we achieved our place at Wembley as a team so when we win, we win as a team, and when we lose, we lose as a team.'

Karanka intends to see out the final year of his current deal to complete the job he has started in the north-east.

'I am looking forward to next season,' he insisted. 'I have one more year on my contract and, when I came here, my objective was to put Middlesbrough back in the Premier.'

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