UNDER fire Nottingham Forest boss Aitor Karanka is relishing the New Year's Day hosting of Leeds United, insisting his side can “do something” against the Whites with home advantage.
Karanka is facing repeated questions about his future following five games without a victory - three of which have ended in defeat - with big-spending Forest six points off the play-offs in tenth.
Karanka has admitted he doesn’t know how secure his position is but the 45-year-old is eagerly awaiting the City Ground showdown with Leeds whom Karanka felt his men proved more than a match for in the 1-1 draw at Elland Road in October in which United striker Kemar Roofe controversially equalised with his hand.
“Playing at home, we know we can do something,” said Karanka. “I am excited. Because it is New Year’s Day and we are playing the team at the top of the table. We were almost better than them at Elland Road, a few months ago.
“So playing at home against them, at this time of year, in front of a big crowd, it is the kind of reason why I love to be involved in football.
“They lost to Hull, which I don’t know if is good or bad, but we will (only) think about ourselves. My biggest concern is to try to help the players recover mentally, as soon as possible.”
Karanka steered former club Middlesbrough to automatic promotion from the Championship in May 2016 following two and a half year at the Riverside.
After being sacked in March 2017 with Boro three points from Premier Division safety, Karanka returned to Championship management at Forest in January 2018.
The Tricky Trees were among this season’s promotion favourites but Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Millwall left Karanka facing further questions about his job.
Speaking to Quest after the loss at The Den, Karanka was asked about his immediate job prospects at Forest and said: “I don’t know, it’s something that I can’t tell you. The only thing I can tell you is that I am doing everything in the way said when I signed the contract.
"The agreement was to build a team like I did at Middlesbrough.”
Karanka also admitted on Saturday evening that he had not been in contact with Forest’s owners about his situation.
“I have not spoken to them,” he said. “The only plan I have now is to report for training at 10.30am.
“We will try to recover for the game both physically and mentally. And I think it will be more about the mental part, because today has been tough for everyone.
“When I came here, my message has been always the same – when I arrived, I arrived to a project in the same way as a I did at Middlesbrough.
“I had two-and-a-half years to achieve what we did there and I arrived here in the same way.
“I built a squad to do the first step and that is the only thing I know so far. I think I have what it takes to take Forest into the Premier League, during that two-and-a-half years, because after six months we were three points below the play-off positions.
“I am working and trying to do my best; trying to be honest and to put this club where it belongs.”