Mowbray relishes intensity 
of tackling the Whites

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TONY MOWBRAY feels takeovers such as the change of ownership at Elland Road are making the promotion battle even harder to win.

The Teessiders, under the control of Steve Gibson since the mid-Eighties, have had to tighten their belts considerably since being relegated from the Premier League in 2009.

Despite those constraints, Mowbray has built a side who have enjoyed an impressive first half of the season with Boro travelling to Elland Road just three points adrift of leaders Cardiff City.

However, the Boro manager believes deals such as this week’s £52m acquisition of United are making life harder than ever for those clubs with aspirations of winning promotion.

He said: “There is an evidence of that with the expenditure of some clubs. Leicester City have spent a lot of money, striving to get there, and Blackburn spent £8m on (Huddersfield Town striker) Jordan Rhodes earlier this season.

“There is an expectancy as a result; the test for the clubs in the race for the new riches of the Premier League is how you spend your money.

“Cardiff City have invested heavily in their squad. Watford have, through their co-ownership of other clubs, got players in and they have found a formula that works for them.

“We are all in the mix. We are all competing, so let’s see who comes out on top.”

With Boro having sold their full allocation of 3,000 tickets, Mowbray is hoping for a repeat outcome of last season when his side triumphed 1-0 in a game that saw three players sent off.

Max Gradel and Jonny Howson saw red for Leeds with Tony McMahon receiving his marching orders for the visitors, who claimed all three points thanks to a second-half strike by Marvin Emnes.

Mowbray added: “We are all looking forward to it. There have been some great atmospheres there over the last few years.

“It is always an intense game and it is always ferocious. There have been a few sendings-off over the years and that is for nothing other than the intensity that is generated on the terraces by the supporters.

“Leeds have a great history and are a fabulous football club. They were at the top end throughout the Seventies, then they had that spell under David O’Leary in the Champions League semi-finals.”

Boro have won three and lost three of their last half dozen outings, but a points haul of 41 from 22 games is impressive.

Mowbray added: “Leeds are a huge club with huge expectation and ambition, and it is a good game for us. It will be good to test ourselves in the cauldron that is Elland Road.

“We have sold out our allocation and probably could have sold a lot more for this game. It is the closest thing we have got to a derby in this division.

“The fans are looking forward to the game yet I am sure they are aware there are only three points to be won. The three points against Peterborough or Wolves will be just as important as going to Elland Road and taking three points from them.

“It would be nice to hit a real good run of form heading into the new year. We have two home games after the Leeds trip so there is an opportunity there to pick up points over the next few weeks.”