Karembeu adds seam of quality to Boro's midfield

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The Independent Football

The Middlesbrough midfielder Christian Karembeu's thirst for knowledge is proving insatiable, after he passed his early Premiership examinations with flying colours.

The Middlesbrough midfielder Christian Karembeu's thirst for knowledge is proving insatiable, after he passed his early Premiership examinations with flying colours.

The 28-year-old has been in impressive form for his new club since his £2.1m move to Teesside from Real Madrid, slotting in well alongside the skipper Paul Ince at Coventry on Saturday and then making light of the England international's absence in the 1-1 draw with Tottenham on Tuesday night with a masterly display.

However, despite his confidence, experience and undoubted ability, he admits he still has a lot to learn about the game in this country. "I'm pleased with the way I've settled in, but that's down to the help of my team-mates," he said. "They've been very friendly and helped me whenever I've needed it. It's much easier when people are working hard for each other. I knew when I came here that it was a different type of football, but I hoped that I would be able to adapt to it quickly, and I think the Premiership can be good for me. I still have a lot to learn, but I'm learning all the time and I'm enjoying it."

Karembeu's early form has helped Boro to collect four points from their first two games, and they sat, however briefly, on top of the Premiership table after Mark Summerbell's goal gave them a share of the points at home to Spurs.

The Frenchman is confident that, if they can keep that form going, his ambitions of lifting silverware during his time on Teesside can be realised. "I came here to win trophies and I hope that, with the signings the manager has made, we can have a lot of success," he said. "If we keep going like we have so far, we can easily finish in the top 10 this season and maybe even better. We've had two good results now and, if we can keep playing well and keep the mentality of winning, we can keep picking up the points.

"We were without some very good players against Spurs, but we're a collective and we demonstrated that on Tuesday night. We're a team, a squad, and we work hard for each other, and we got our reward for that against Spurs."

Karembeu's early form has impressed not only his manager Bryan Robson but also his team-mates, and the experienced defender Gary Pallister is certain that the Frenchman's presence, along with that of Alen Boksic and his former Manchester United and England colleague Ince, must be of long-term benefit to the Teessiders.

"I thought Christian was our best player against Spurs," Pallister said. "He took up where he left off against Coventry and I thought he gave another solid performance. It's going to be a long process for the club to get where we want to be. We're not going to get there overnight, and some people get a little bit frustrated and think we can. A club like this needs to build gradually.

"The manager is trying to bring in big names, but you can see the frustration sometimes when he does bring them in and, if they make an impact, they want to move on to the so-called bigger clubs.

"That's a frustrating point for the manager, but I think we're going in the right direction and there's going to come a time when players are not just going to look at Middlesbrough and think: 'I'll play there and then maybe go on to better things'. Hopefully, Middlesbrough is going to be a club which is able to compete with the best five or six teams in the country, and that's what we're all working for."

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