MENTION Middlesbrough’s record at Hillsborough and you will receive a few dark stares from Boro supporters.
It is a venue where Boro have suffered two hefty historical blows, with the first one coming at the end of the 1988-89 season when Bruce Rioch’s young side were relegated to the Second Division after Steve Whitton netted for the Owls on the final day of the season.
Fast forward to the Spring of 1997 when the Teessiders were denied their first piece of major silverware at S6 when an extra-time goal from Steve Claridge gave Leicester City a 1-0 win after extra-time in a League Cup replay at S6.
Since that fixture 18 and a half years ago, Boro have won just once in their last six outings at Hillsborough, losing five, with the Owls doing the double over them last season.
A far-from-ideal build-up to today’s game has seen disgruntled winger Albert Adomah issue a transfer request, with the cards, once again, not seeming to fall in Boro’s favour ahead of the trip.
Acknowledging that a tough afternoon is in prospect, head coach Aitor Karanka said: “I expect a difficult game. They are in the same position as us.
“I know the manager is from Portugal and it’s an organised team.
“We couldn’t beat them last season away or at home so they will want to win the game at Hillsborough.
“But we have to think about ourselves and we have to think we can win.”
Karanka will not need reminding of how a slow start last August, which saw them miss out on nine available points in losses to the Owls, Leeds and Reading, arguably cost them automatic promotion in 2014-15.
Boro’s start to the current season has not been too hot either, with Karanka under no illusions of the importance of today’s game to get back on track after last weekend’s shock home loss to Bristol City.
He said: “This game is very important. We can’t lose many more games.
“But if we do, then we have to remember that we have another nine months.
“The season is a marathon. Last year, we finished the first month with six points, we came close to getting promoted automatically and played the final at Wembley.
“We can’t panic as we’re still in August. We have a good squad with very good players so we’re going to play against Sheffield Wednesday wanting to win.”