Leeds Boss Expects Karanka to Be a Success at Middlesbrough

BRIAN McDERMOTT expects Aitor Karanka to prove a success at Middlesbrough, but the Leeds United boss will be doing everything he can to ensure the Teessiders’ new head coach suffers a disappointing start to his time in England.

Karanka was formally appointed as Tony Mowbray’s successor ten days ago, but the international break has meant he has had to wait for his first game in charge of his new club.

That finally comes this afternoon at Elland Road, a ground he once visited as an unused substitute as Real Madrid beat Leeds in the second group stage of the Champions League back in 2002.

Since then, Leeds’ fortunes have nosedived, with Middlesbrough joining them in the Championship four-and-a-half years ago and finding it similarly difficult to return to the top-flight.

McDermott thinks Boro chairman Steve Gibson has made an astute choice of head coach as he looks to propel his club back into the promotion picture, and has been doing his best to read up on Karanka since he was installed into his new position.

“They’ve got a new manager and I’ve listened to some of what he says, and you can tell he’s a football man,” said McDermott, who has guided Leeds to within a point of the Championship play-offs in the opening 15 games of the season.

“The last time he played here he was in the squad for Real Madrid when they beat Leeds in 2002. He’s got a great CV.

“I didn’t know much about him, although I know a bit more now because I’ve done my homework, which you try to do to see if you can pick up anything. But I like the way he speaks and you can see he’s going to do well for Middlesbrough.”

Since winning at Charlton in the middle of August, Boro have gone six away matches without recording a victory, and while they played well enough in their last away outing at Blackburn, Jason Lowe’s wonder goal condemned them to defeat and helped hasten the departure of former caretaker Mark Venus.

Leeds’ home form, on the other hand, has been excellent, with their last three matches at Elland Road resulting in wins over Bournemouth, Birmingham and Yeovil.

The West Yorkshire club will start as favourites this afternoon, although McDermott insists he has not been paying much attention to Boro’s record prior to Karanka’s arrival.

“I don’t look at Middlesbrough’s away stats,” said the Leeds boss. “I just look at us – how we’ve been training and what we’re doing. We just match ourselves against the opposition, and we’re looking forward to getting back to Elland Road.

“We’ve been building since I came and trying to build momentum. There have been low points, but you have to have those times when things don’t go your way.

“Then you bounce back from those occasions and we’ve done that. This is another game and we’ll try and win it. I can sense that the fans are looking forward to it – I know we are.”

Had things turned out differently in the summer, Leeds’ star striker, Ross McCormack, might have been lining up in a Middlesbrough shirt in today’s game.

The Teessiders had three bids turned down for the Scotland international, with the final offer falling just short of the £2m mark.

McCormack eventually signed a new four-year deal at the end of August, and the Scotland international has not looked back since, scoring 11 goals in 15 Championship appearances.

He suffered an injury scare at the start of the week, when former Middlesbrough boss Gordon Strachan sent him home from the Scotland squad after he suffered a hamstring strain.

However, the move was a precautionary one, and McCormack will be available to line up for Leeds this afternoon.

“Basically, Gordon Strachan didn’t want him to travel (to Norway),” said McDermott. “He thought he’d be better training with us, so he sent him back. Credit to Gordon for that. They (Scotland) got a good result in Norway too, so it was good for everyone.”

source: www.thenorthernecho.co.uk

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