Aitor Karanka glosses over mistakes as Middlesbrough lose 'as a team'

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka refused to single out individuals for the defensive errors in Norwich's 2-0 play-off final win on Monday.

In the end it was a comfortable victory for Norwich City, and after leading the pack on several occasions during an epic Championship campaign, it was devastating for Middlesbrough to lose at the final hurdle. After a week of tense build-up, Middlesbrough failed to spark on the day.

Early goals from Cameron Jerome and Nathan Redmond settled a contest in which 'Boro never looked dangerous  - with some observers blaming a late arrival at Wembley Stadium due to traffic for 'Boro's ponderous state - but Karanka preferred to look back on the team spirit that got his team to the final, rather than highlight the defensive lapses that lead to the two goals.

Speaking to the Middlesbrough official website after the game, the 41-year-old Spaniard said: “I prefer to not speak about it (mistakes) because we achieved to play a game at Wembley as a team so we also lose as a team. It’s not easy, so for this reason I’m prepared to think about how good this season has been for us, and what we have done from the beginning of the season and since I’ve been here."

Few observers, neutral or otherwise, could argue that Norwich were not worthy winners and Karanka was gracious in defeat and typically philosophical for Middlesbrough's future: "You can imagine when you lose a game it’s always difficult and even more when you lose the final,” he said “we made mistakes and when you make mistakes it’s difficult.

“The first thing that I want to do is congratulate Norwich because they got promotion. After that I want to say how proud I am of the players, the chairman, the club and fans because I came here 18 months ago and the team were two points off the relegation position.”

Karanka is now charged with lifting his players for pre-season training and another assault on the holy grail of promotion to the Premier League. It is now six years since 'Boro were in the top flight, and with the future of loan striker Patrick Bamford up in the air, it promises to be a critical summer at the Riverside. 

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