Under-fire Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka is his own worst critic
Aitor Karanka does not need to listen to his detractors as he attempts to hang on to his job at Middlesbrough - because he is his own biggest critic.
The 43-year-old Spaniard will send Boro into FA Cup quarter-final battle with Manchester City on Saturday having seen them slip into the Premier League's bottom three last weekend following a run of 10 games without a victory.
Defeat at Stoke last time out sparked speculation that he would be given his cards with just 11 matches of Boro's first season back in the top flight remaining, but with some supporters having run out of patience, there is no lack of self-awareness on his part.
Asked if all the talk had made him more determined to succeed, Karanka said: "No, because I am the first critic, so I don't need to hear the criticism.
"Even last season when everybody told me I was the best or the when we beat Manchester City in the FA Cup two years ago and everybody told me I was the best, I have said always that the day I think I am the best, I will go home because that day, I will die.
"Look, I am starting my career and every single situation is new. I have to learn, I have to modify, I need to know the mistakes I am making, I need to know the things I can improve because I am learning and I have to try to bring the best from the players.
"Now I think the only thing I can do is to give them all my confidence because now it's about their confidence."
Karanka is fortunate that he is employed by a chairman in Steve Gibson who is famously loyal to his managers, although the Teesside businessman has demonstrated a willingness to wield the axe when it becomes necessary.
The pair met this week and the head coach's future does not appear to have been on the agenda a year to the weekend after he was placed on temporary leave following a training ground disagreement.
Asked if he felt he still had Gibson's full support, Karanka replied: "Of course. He showed me after one month when I arrived here. I don't need to feel it every day because he showed me just one month after I came here.
"The most difficult moment for me was when I arrived here and we lost three games, we drew one and we won just one. He was the first one who told me of his confidence, so since that day, I feel his confidence."
"Confidence" was very much the watch-word as Karanka conducted his pre-match press conference a day after he, his coaches, the players and other staff had lunch together in an effort to rebuild the sense of unity which has fuelled the club in recent seasons.
The Spaniard said: "You can feel the spirit of the team and it is just trying to recover their confidence and to show them that they are able to do a lot of good things."