Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka stayed level-headed after a controlling 1-0 win over Hull City at the Riverside Stadium on Monday.
Aside from a couple of heart-in-throat moments near the 90th minute, Boro was all over the Tigers in earning three points and jumping into 13th place.
[ MORE: Match recap ]
“We deserved to win this game because we had a lot of chances,” Karanka said after the match on NBCSN. “We scored the goal, had a lot of possession, and were confident on the pitch. When we scored the goal, we had the spirit to manage this kind of game. It’s a game to be really proud of the team. It’s difficult to play Monday.”
He was asked whether Boro was better than being a relegation candidate.
“We have to fight relegation because we are a recently promoted team. We have to keep winning games, if you’re in the Premier League you’re going to pay if you’re complacent. We have done nothing yet.”
Boro appears to have the quality to stay up, and has an interesting road through the congested holiday season of fixtures: at Saints, home for Liverpool and Swansea, at Burnley and Manchester United, then home to Leicester on Jan. 2.
Find 7-8 points in there, and perhaps there will be some exhalations a few days into 2017.