Middlesbrough are 'more confident' of achieving promotion to the Premier League than last season, according to the club's Head Coach.
Boro were top of the table at this stage last year but slipped down to 4th and were eventually beaten by Norwich City in the playoff final.
However, Aitor Karanka believes his team are in an even stronger position this time. A victory against Reading tonight would see Middlesbrough leapfrog Burnley into top spot with five games remaining.
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Aitor Karanka's return to the Middlesbrough dugout resulted in a happy ending to a turbulent week as David Nugent's stoppage-time header saw off fellow Sky Bet Championship promotion hopefuls Hull.
Having walked out last Friday following a stormy meeting with his players, and failing to smooth over the bust-up the following day, it looked like the former Real Madrid assistant manager's days on Teesside were numbered.
However, having watched the loss at struggling Charlton from afar, Karanka surprisingly returned to his role as head coach this week and on Friday oversaw a memorable late win as substitute Nugent saw off Steve Bruce's men 1-0 at the death.
Both sides came into this match looking to kick-start stuttering promotion tilts, which had seen Boro fall to three defeats in last four outings and Hull winless over the same period.
The Riverside encounter started energetically enough, but it tapered off with Cristhian Stuani's header and a Robert Snodgrass strike the best either team could muster.
Hull started the second period brightly but the hosts weathered that storm and, just as the match was petering out, Nugent glanced home, sending the Riverside into raptures as Karanka and his staff jumped in celebration on the touchline.
It made for an exciting end to an otherwise forgettable match, ahead of which the Boro head coach used his programme notes to express his relief that "everything has been made clear" and that the club could move on.
The visitors made changes of their own in a bid to eke out a winner and the substitutes almost combined for the opener, with Abel Hernandez blocked and then Ahmed Elmohamady lashing over. Konstantopoulos also kept out a hopeful Robertson header.
Hull captain Michael Dawson impressively blocked Nugent, but the substitute was not to be denied for long.
As the match entered stoppage time, Albert Adomah swung in a cross that Nugent steered home to send the Riverside wild.
Our reporter Simon O'Rourke attended the Boro press conference ahead of this weekends Hull game.
He tried to find out just what happened last week, when Karanka missed the Charlton game after reportedly walking out on training.
Here's how he got on...
Aitor Karanka will be resuming duties with the club, says Middlesbrough FC.
Middlesbrough Football Club can confirm that Head Coach Aitor Karanka will be resuming first team duties with the club with immediate effect.
We have 10 games left this season and as a club we are fully focussed on what remains of our Championship campaign.
Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka is expected to discuss his future with the club's owner and chairman Steve GibsonRead the full story ›
Boro lose 2-0 to Charlton. They now sit 7 points behind Championship leaders Burnley, and only two ahead of Hull, who lie in third.Read the full story ›
TEAM NEWS: Dimi, Nsue, Gibson, Fry, Friend, Leadbitter, Clayton, Downing, Ramirez, Adomah, Rhodes.
Subs: Agazzi, De Laet, De Sart, Stuani, Kalas, Forshaw, Nugent.
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka will not be taking charge for this afternoon's game at Charlton Athletic. The club revealed that Head Coach Steve Agnew would be leading the team in a statement released yesterday morning. The news followed rumours of a training ground bust up on Friday.
Football writer at The Gazette newspaper in Middlesbrough Dominic Shaw said to ITV Tyne Tees that while Boro are usually a 'picture of stability', the current uncertainty was 'the last thing you need' with only 11 games left this season.