THE talk at Middlesbrough may be of achieving one milestone tomorrow, but Aitor Karanka is more minded towards recording another.
Namely securing his maiden victory over Leeds United after failing to preside over a win against the Whites in four matches during his spell in charge on Teesside.
His first game at the Boro helm was a 2-1 loss at Elland Road in November, 2013, with the reverse fixture ending goalless. Leeds then did the double over his side last term, damaging their automatic promotion quest.
Boro are running hot heading into the televised encounter at the Riverside Stadium and could equal a 20-year record of seven successive wins if they prevail.
That was set by Bryan Robson’s class of 1995-96, although Karanka is more concerned with ending his own barren streak against Leeds, who head north having lost just once in 13 visits to the Riverside Stadium.
Acknowledging the inherent dangers that tomorrow’s visitors pose, Karanka said: “Leeds are a team who are always difficult to play. I have never beaten them.
“I couldn’t beat them the last four times, but the team is now a lot different to the team who played them two years ago. I have to analyse them and beat them knowing their weaknesses and knowing their strengths.”
While Leeds have cause to be emboldened by their outstanding sequence of results on Teesside over the past couple of decades, their form on the road in 2015 – they have lost just three league games – makes them an even more formidable opponent, according to Karanka.
“They are a team with a very good manager (Rosler). His sides are always organised. I am expecting a very tough team.”
Boro’s Capital One Cup tie will be at Manchester United on Wednesday, October 28 (8pm).