As Manchester United beat Middlesbrough 3-1 on Sunday, Jose Mourinho looked especially pleased. Rudy Gestede scoring for Middlesbrough had brought the score to 2-1 and there were panicky moments for Mourinho.
Jumping for joy and overly celebrating, it was pretty clear that Mourinho was sending a message to those in charge at Middlesbrough, Steve Agnew, and any of the club’s players who had turned on Aitor Karanka. There had been claims a handful of players had turned against Karanka at Middlesbrough, and Stewart Downing has been singled in some media reports as having fallen out with the manager.
During his Manchester United press conference last week, Mourinho explained that Karanka had issues with some people at Middlesbrough, and had shared the names of those involved.
Whilst that’s a story which may well come out in the future, former Middlesbrough manager Karanka has been speaking to France Football about his relationship with Mourinho. Asked about their time together at Real Madrid, Karanka explained: “I did not know Jose before it arrived at Real. I know that he spoke to me once, when he was at Porto, complaining that I had not been expelled. But the first time I talked to him was when he called me on the phone a month before I started working with him.
“He has a way of talking to you, making you feel that his plan for you is amazing. And he said enough in the conversation to convince me that I should work with him. He did not want an assistant who says “yes” to everything, but someone who is able to contradict him. At the same time, I immediately entered its “family”.”
Mourinho has a close group of coaches but Karanka was brought into the fold like a member of the family: “During the first conversation we had had together, he told me he was going to adopt me, those with whom I work, Louro, Rui Faria, would regard me as a brother.”
Karanka said he took tips he’d learned from Mourinho to Middlesbrough and integrated it into his own style. Mourinho obviously still thinks highly of Karanka given his angry reaction to the Middlesbrough events which led to the Spaniard’s sacking.