A month ago Boro fans were in turmoil. From nowhere reports of a huge bust up between manager and players, talk of the manager walking out and a feeling of general unrest apparently swept through the squad.
Add to that defeats to lowly Charlton and Rotherham and you can see why fans were starting to think that their season was going to capitulate.
Fast-forward to April 16 and Boro have won six consecutive games, scoring 12 and conceding only four times, resulting in them being top of The Championship, with a four point cushion over Brighton who are just outside the automatic promotion places in 3rd and two points clear of Burnley who occupy the other automatic spot in 2nd.
One of the most notable observations of Boro’s recent return to form has been the team spirit and togetherness of the squad. We will never really know the details of the row but Karanka is believed to have questioned the commitment of his players and asled of them whether they want it or not.
If that was the question then the resounding answer from the players has been yes. They have rolled their sleeves up and dug out results. They have kept going until the end in games scoring vital injury time winners in three recent games against Hull, Reading and now Bolton. Boro also seem to be getting more from some of their so called big players with Jordan Rhodes now hitting the goal trail.
It certainly seems that this has galvanised the whole team and club. Midfielder Adam Clayton believes it helped.
“It was a testing period but it brought everyone closer and made us realise we all want the same things; the fans, the players, the staff,” Clayton told FL72 Podcast.
“If anything it settled the ship down and got us all going again knowing that we have got to do it for ourselves. It’s been a good thing in the end to just regalvanise the players.
The celebrations after matches show how much it means to the players, who now have just 4 games to go and an opportunity to reach the Premier League.
So was Karanka using a bit of reverse psychology to fire up his players who maybe thought they were good enough to get promoted at a canter? We’ve definitely seen similar psychological warfare from his mentor and former boss Jose Mourinho. It may be hailed as a managerial master stroke if Boro maintain their form for the final 4 games.
Next up a heavyweight encounter against Burnley on Tuesday night.