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