IN football, the mood is so often determined by results on the pitch. But where Michael Carrick is concerned, he insists that's not the case.

His Middlesbrough side have gone from competing at the top end of the Championship to struggling at the bottom, but the Boro head coach is adamant he isn't feeling the pressure and, while naturally disappointed and frustrated with the way the early weeks of the campaign have played out, he says he still goes into work every day with a smile on his face.

Boro host Southampton today still looking for their first win of the season at the eighth time of asking. It would be understandable if such a run - on the back of last season's heartbreak - was taking its toll on Carrick, but the head coach insists that isn't the case.

While the Boro boss is working hard to put things right, he says his mood his remains upbeat and, despite the testing start to he season, there have been no sleepless nights for the head coach.


“Honestly, it does not affect me. I come to work and it is not even work, it is something I enjoy," said Carrick.

"I am fortunate enough to be in a position that I can do something that I love doing. And I never take that for granted because not everyone can do that. So that is one thing for me, coming  in every day, appreciating where I am. So it is what it is. I just treat every day like that and enjoy what I am doing.

"There's no hiding from the fact it becomes more challenging and difficult, because we're trying to find solutions. But there aren't sleepless nights.

“My mood is good. Obviously I’m not happy with the points total and I accept the position we find ourselves in, but that doesn’t change my mood or my behaviour around the place or with the players. They all know what we expect and the biggest thing I can ask for is effort, the right attitude and application.

"In many ways, we are getting that - I can’t question that. If anything, sometimes you can want it so much that it can go in the other direction and hinder you a little bit. I think we saw that on Tuesday evening when we second-guessing things.

"Sometimes you have to take a deep breath and trust and believe in yourself. I know what they’re capable of and I certainly believe in them 100%."

Carrick's overriding emotion in the early weeks of the season has been sympathy for his players, who he believes have deserved more for their efforts so far. He admits he's raised his voice "once or twice" in the dressing room, but he says there's been little reason to be angry with his squad.

"If I see someone trying and the effort is there and the attitude is right, I could never have a go at them," he says.

"You’ve got to try and understand where the players are coming from, mentally where they’re at. For me, they’re giving absolutely everything so I can’t fault that. So what’s there to get angry about? It’s about working together to come through this."


While Carrick accepts some tweaks might be required to address issues that are plaguing Boro on the pitch, a priority for the head coach is ensuring the players retain belief during this difficult period and have clarity of thought on the pitch.

He says: "When you’re winning it all comes down to confidence and trust and it looks like things happen in slow motion. But when it’s not quite there and you haven’t quite got that feeling, everything appears that bit quicker or is rushed and things are maybe a bit more clouded.

"I’ve been there plenty of times as a player where you’re not feeling it as you’d hope to and you’re not quite as in control of a game as you would like. That’s natural and is all about what’s going on up there.

"It’s nothing to do with a change in ability or fitness levels. They are what they are. At the top level, it’s more about the mind. So that’s the test and the challenge and we’ve got to embrace it, rise to it and come through it.

"Confidence ultimately comes from success, but that doesn’t have to be winning games. It can be a successful pass, dribble or tackle. Whatever little detail in the game, you can gain confidence quite quickly through little actions. Of course though, the big actions, scoring goals, going ahead in games, winning games, that will ultimately give you that next level.

"But you can gain positive boosts of energy and confidence from all the little things that go on through a game. Sometimes it can take time and you have to work hard and work through it, do the simple things well. It’s not click your fingers and everything is fantastic again. You’ve got to accept the situation and do something about it."