DELIGHTED Michael Carrick hailed his Middlesbrough players for adapting to a very different gameplan and executing it to perfection in the win over Leicester City.

Boro usually like to dominate possession but it was Leicester who had most of the ball at the Riverside. With that comes the mental test of staying switched on, but Carrick was thrilled with the manner in which his players took to the ultimate Championship challenge and the way Boro performed without the ball.

After staying in the game for so long, Boro won it thanks to Sam Greenwood's brilliant late free-kick, his fourth goal in six games.


“It was a big win," said Carrick.

"They are a really good team and we knew that. Individually, collectively, how they’re coached, they’re a very good team and it’s not an accident that they are where they are in the league.

"They will be in and around the top at the end of the season. We knew that and so we showed a different side to ourselves today with a lot of the out-of-possession work.

"It was really good pressing and really good defensively. They test you. You have to close certain spaces for the whole game, you have to concentrate for the whole game and that has been a major factor today.

"The boys got the gameplan off to a tee and actually, the few chances we did give away was actually from us giving the ball away, which we don’t normally do. That’s one of those things though. It was an immense effort and I’m so proud of the boys."

Asked where this ranks alongside his best wins as Boro boss, Carrick said:  “I was really pleased with winning it in a different way. Some of the games you might remember as winning playing some really good attacking football - controlling games and looking really dangerous.

"Today was a proper game. I said to the boys coming in at half time, laughing, ‘It’s a proper game today boys’. And you could really feel that."