Aitor Karanka is expecting no favours from his friend, Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho, upon Middlesbrough’s return to the Premier League.
Karanka was Mourinho’s assistant during his time at Real Madrid, and regularly sought advice during a difficult opening period at the Riverside Stadium.
However, the Spaniard accepts that will change, now that they are competitors.
“We are friends and that is the most important thing,” Karanka said.
“When you are friends, you are always trying to help each other out but now we are playing in the league. So, advice from Jose? No.
“I learnt a lot with him and I wish him all the best this season – except when Manchester United play against Middlesbrough of course.”
Middlesbrough start their return to the Premier League on Saturday when they host Stoke, and while nine have been added to the squad, they have not spent generously.
Victor Valdes, Gaston Ramirez and Bernardo Espinosa all arrived on free transfers along with Alvaro Negredo on loan from Valencia, while strong additions in Viktor Fischer and Antonio Barragan cost a combined £6.75million.
While Karanka is trying to temper expectations, he believes Middlesbrough have adequate quality to compete and survive the drop.
“Maybe I needed to know a lot of things about the Championship but everybody knows the Premier League and I don’t think I’ll find surprises,” he said.
In contrast to current confidence, Karanka admits he does not know if he would have stayed at Middlesbrough, had they have narrowly missed out on promotion for the second straight year, following 2014’s play-off loss to Norwich.
“It is completely different now as you can imagine. Last season, it was tough for me to arrive in my office and take all the games off the wall and put another 46 fixtures in their place.
“Now, everything has changed – the emotions, the players, people on the street.
“I don’t want to ask myself what would happened if we didn’t win promotion.”
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