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29th Dec 2016

Aitor Karanka explains exactly what makes his ex-boss Jose Mourinho “the best”

The pair worked together at Real Madrid

Rob Burnett

Jose Mourinho may be finding life a little tougher at Manchester United than he has perhaps been used to, but to his former assistant Aitor Karanka he is still the special one.

Ex-Real Madrid Karanka began working with Mourinho when the Portuguese arrived at the Bernabeu. One of his first acts was to appoint Karanka as his assistant.

The pair worked together during Mourinho’s time in the Spanish capital before the ex-Chelsea boss left and eventually returned to Stamford Bridge, while Karanka took over as Middlesbrough boss, guiding the Teesside club back into the Premier League.

He will face his mentor for the first time in a competitive fixture on Saturday when Boro visit Manchester United, and ahead of the clash he was asked what makes Mourinho so successful.

“It’s a mix of everything: his knowledge, his character, his passion, his personality – he has a lot of things,” Karanka said.

PASADENA, CA - AUGUST 07: Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho (C) and assistants coach Rui Faria (L) and Aitor Karanka during their pre-season friendly soccer match against Los Angeles Galaxy on August 7, 2010 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Real Madrid will travel back to Spain after the soccer match completing their pre-season USA tour. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

“The way that he prepares the game is the best; the way that he trains is the best; the way that he is in the changing room is the best, so it’s a lot of things and for that reason, he is the best.

“The best example is the relationship he has with the players when he leaves clubs. He has a really good relationship with them all.

“For sure, the players always want to play, but he has a very good relationship with most of the players who have been with him because if he goes to Arsenal, you can see him with (Mesut) Ozil giving him a hug, or when he goes to other places, he has a very good relationship.”

Mourinho’s United currently sit sixth in the table, 13 points off his former side Chelsea, who lead.