Aitor Karanka: Middlesbrough must manage promotion pressure
Head coach Aitor Karanka says it is inevitable Middlesbrough will feel pressure in their end-of-season battle to win promotion to the Premier League.
Boro are one of four teams locked on 66 points at the top of the Championship table, and are fourth by virtue of goal difference with 10 games to play.
The Teessiders missed the chance to ease ahead at the top after Saturday's 2-1 defeat by Nottingham Forest.
"To take the pressure off is impossible," Karanka told BBC Tees.
"When I was a player at Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao and the Spanish national team it was the same. When you want to win something, you can never do it without pressure.
"If you are playing to win something you will face pressure, we have to manage this pressure and have to work in the same way we have been working for the last seven months."
Middlesbrough lost just one of 18 league games between October and February to stake their claims as top-flight hopefuls, but have since suffered defeat in three of their last five matches.
Whether the Riverside club can achieve their aims of exiting the Championship after six seasons outside the top tier could depend on the next three games - against promotion rivals Ipswich Town, Derby County and Bournemouth.
"We have one week to think and prepare for the following three games," said Karanka.
"The main game for me is the game against Ipswich on Saturday, after that game we will speak about Derby and Bournemouth.
"After that week we could be top of the table, we could be in the middle of the play-offs or outside the play-offs. Everything is possible.
"We have to rest, to work and prepare for the game against Ipswich."