TWELVE months after agreeing to take his first job in frontline football management, Aitor Karanka has said ‘thank you’ to chairman Steve Gibson for taking a chance on him at Middlesbrough.

Karanka has worked his magic so far at the Riverside Stadium by transforming a squad struggling towards the wrong end of the Championship in to one which has serious eyes on automatic promotion to the Premier League.

Managing in the English top-flight was the Spaniard’s aim when he agreed to succeed Tony Mowbray – already being linked with the vacant manager’s job at Wigan - a year ago and he is going the right way about granting his own wish.

But the message from Karanka on the day of his first anniversary as boss was very much a respectful one, choosing to highlight those he has worked with at the Riverside and the man who took the gamble on an overseas appointment.

“It’s been an amazing year,” said Karanka. “On this day last year we were in the press conference room, I was really pleased to be here. I would like to say, one year later, thanks to Steve Gibson and to the club for trusting me.

“I know it was the first foreign manager in the history of this club so it was difficult for me and for him. I want to say thanks to him and to the people in the club.

“I also want to say thanks to the players I have had since my first day here. They have been perfect with me, for my people and my staff. They are the ones who work with me every single day, the medical staff, everybody. I want to say thanks to everybody because they have all made my job easier.”

During his short time in charge he has changed the face of the squad, making the team strong candidates for promotion. His work has impressed supporters, with more than 21,000 fans turning up for last Saturday’s top of the table match with Bournemouth.

But rather than focus on himself when he was asked about the turnaround and the affection there is for him on Teesside, Karanka was quick to shift the attention on the team ethos.

“Once again I want to say thanks to the fans,” he said. “Since the first day I have felt I had their support. The team is in this position because there are a lot of people behind the team working, from Steve to the kit man and to the crowd.

“Everybody is working together for the same objectives. The most important thing is we work in the same way, together. Today I want to be better than I was yesterday and tomorrow I want to be better than I was today. I am always thinking of improving myself ... if we improve every single day then that is the way we will progress.”

Karanka, speaking to the club’s website during the international break, also stopped short of predicting that his second anniversary will be celebrated in the Premier League.

He said: “I have to think about the Wigan game (Saturday, November 22). I prefer to think about our days off this week then we can speak about where we are in one more year. I will not be thinking about what division we will be in yet.

“We have to work, that’s the philosophy we need for the next year and beyond. You have to work to improve yourself every single day. If you can do that then you will achieve success. I have learned that from my family, from my parents. I will always work the following day.”

Aitor Karanka's first year in charge

The Northern Echo:

AITOR KARANKA is celebrating being in charge at the Riverside Stadium for 12 months. The Northern Echo’s Mark Ramsay looks back at his time with Middlesbrough so far, looking at some of his highs and lows.

November 13 , 2013

Aitor Karanka was appointed head coach to replace Tony Mowbray.

November 28, 2013

Moved to bring in Shay Given on a three-month loan and the former Newcastle keeper kept ten clean sheets in 16 league games.

November 30, 2013

Wins first home game 1-0 against Bolton Wanderers courtesy of a penalty from Grant Leadbitter.

January 4, 2014

Boro were knocked out of the FA Cup third round by Hull City, losing 2-0 at the Riverside.

January 28, 2014

Despite improving the defence, an eight-match goal drought lasting 12 hours and 14 minutes ended when Danny Graham converted a header against Ipswich.

March 4, 2014

One of Karanka’s most crucial early signings was to add Craig Hignett to his backroom team as assistant head coach. Hignett left his post at Hartlepool.

The Northern Echo:

May 3, 2014

His first season in charge ended with a 12th place finish in the Championship after a comfortable 4-1 final day victory over Yeovil Town.

July 11, 2014

Completes his most expensive signing so far by landing Spanish striker Kike from Murcia for £2.7m. He has scored five goals in 17 appearances since his arrival.

August 13, 2014

Despite concerns about allowing Jacob Butterfield to leave, he pushes through a deal for Huddersfield’s Adam Clayton and Butterfield goes the other way. Clayton has since been crucial to his plans.

September 1, 2014

Deadline day proved important for the season ahead when he persuaded Jelle Vossen, Yanic Wildschut and Jamal Blackman to all move in. He also added Ryan Fredericks on loan from Tottenham having already got Patrick Bamford from Chelsea two days earlier.

September 13, 2014

Boro’s first outing after deadline day saw them win at Huddersfield to start a seven-game undefeated run in the Championship, including wins over the Terriers, Cardiff, Brentford, Fulham and Brighton.

September 23, 2014

A marathon 14-13 penalties defeat to Premier League club Liverpool was required to knock Boro out of the Capital One Cup. Karanka felt afterwards the performance proved his team could compete with the best.

November 4, 2014

A comfortable 4-0 victory over Norwich lifted Middlesbrough up to second in the Championship and a draw with Bournemouth four days later means just one defeat from their last ten.

November 13, 2014

Aitor Karanka celebrates one year in charge of Middlesbrough.