Aitor Karanka: Middlesbrough boss "understands" players

Karanka explains Boro 'togetherness'

Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka says his experiences as a player have helped nurture his relationship with the squad at the Riverside.

Karanka, 41, won the Champions League at Real Madridexternal-link and also played for Athletic Bilbao in a 13-year career.

Chelsea loanee Patrick Bamford praised the team spirit after Tuesday's 4-0 victory against Norwich that took Boro second in the Championship.

"I know what players want because I was one," Karanka told BBC Look North.

"I try to manage with what I have learned, I take a little bit of experience from every job and we try to have everybody happy.

"When I was a player I worked with Jose Mourinho for three years [at Real Madrid], then I worked with the young lads in the Spanish national team - you have to pick a little thing you learned from every job you do."

Middlesbrough players celebrate
Middlesbrough's team spirit has been key, according to forward Patrick Bamford

Middlesbrough can climb to the top of the table on Saturday with success against leaders Bournemouth at the Riverside.

Karanka will likely keep faith with the same squad that won against the Canaries in midweek, leaving some senior names to miss out.

Belgium international Jelle Vossen has been a substitute in recent matches, as has Bamford's fellow Chelsea loanee Kenneth Omeruo, while last weekend's goal hero Yanic Wildschut also featured from the bench on Tuesday as the squad is rotated.

"With the new players, we are now a consistent team and we have a lot of alternatives up front," Karanka added.

"We didn't have this last season but now we have Patrick [Bamford], Kike, Jelle [Vossen], [Lee] Tomlin, Wildschut, [Albert] Adomah, Adam Reach, all players who can score goals."