Former Boro midfielder Gaizka Mendieta has praised Aitor Karanka for Middlesbrough’s promotion back to the Premier League.
Mendieta, who made 40 international appearances for Spain during his 16 year career, was complimentary of the club and Karanka for burying their differences after a spat earlier in the season, one that saw the former Real Madrid assistant coach threaten to walkaway in mid-March.
Nevertheless, despite that mid-season turbulence, Boro did not lose focus and they marched comfortably towards promotion, picking up an impressive 89 points and shurgging off the threat posed from fellow promotion hopefuls Brighton with a 1-1 draw at the Riverside on the last day of the season.
And Mendieta has praised Karanka for getting the job done.
Speaking at the Soccerex Americas conference in Mexico, the Valencia icon said “I'm very happy for the club, the fans and Aitor Karanka.
“They were very close last year but unfortunately didn't make it, so I'm very happy to see the club has believed in Aitor's philosophy and the way he works.
"All relationships go through times when you might disagree but I think the important thing is to talk and sort things out.
"They did and they fixed whatever it was that happened. Fortunately, it didn't affect the team, which is the important thing, and they had success.
"So I have to give credit to all parties - the club, the team, Aitor, the fans - that they've believed in something and got the result they wanted. The club deserves to be in the Premier League.'
Middlesbrough have managed to pick up 23 wins both home and away, and when it really mattered, Karanka’s men delivered with one of their longest unbeaten runs of the season – 10 without defeat at the back-end of the campaign.
And despite Boro’s successes this season, Mendieta doesn’t think the club will be able to match the heroic exploits of Leicester City.
“I don’t think we’ll see another Leicester, historic and unique, winning the title in a long time.
“It was one in a million, happily we witnessed it, but I don’t think it will be the case for Boro.
“I just think I’m happy to see them back in the Premier League.”
Middlesbrough ended their 7 year absence from top division football on the last day of the season in a dramatic finale, drawing with Brighton in a winner takes all encounter.
And Boro fans will be delighted with the fact that they will take the place of North-East rivals Newcastle, who were relegated on Wednesday by Sunderland of all teams.
The win ensured the Black Cats’ survival, meaning there will still be two clubs from the North East battling it out in the Premier League next season.