WHEN Michael Carrick thinks of Elland Road, one stand-out memory comes to mind: a 3-0 win for Manchester United with the now head coach playing as a makeshift centre-half.

That was a League Cup third round tie in 2011. Twelve years on, how he'd love to be celebrating a repeat of that scoreline come 5pm tonight.

It was back in 2011 that Boro last won at Elland Road and if they're to end a 12-year wait today with three points against Leeds United, it would surely be the result of the season so far. Yes, Boro beat Championship leaders Leicester City at home last month but  Leeds are unbeaten in nine home games this season and have won six on the bounce.

Given Carrick's Manchester United past, he expects something of a frosty reception at Elland Road, but this afternoon's atmosphere and sense of occasion is something he wants his players to relish.

"You have to enjoy it," he said.

"Atmospheres that are classed as hostile or difficult to play in, they're the best ones. I'll pass that on to the boys. Some see it as being uncomfortable but for me it's exactly what we want.

"I think I played at Elland Road once or twice with West Ham, only a couple with United I think. I remember playing centre half in a League Cup game, I think we won two or three nil.

"Unfortunately in some ways because of the great rivalry when I was at United, we didn't get to play each other too much. It's a good stadium, they're on a good run so they'll be looking forward to the game just as much as us.

"I'm sure I'll get a nice warm welcome, but that's great, that's football, you want that passion and that emotion.

"Some games bring different kinds of atmosphere but really for us in terms of preparing for the game it's business as usual.

"The players have played in some big games in different challenging atmospheres since I've been here and dealt with it very well so I don't worry about that."


Despite the home side's fine form, Boro have reason to be confident. They lost at Bristol City the last time they were on their travels but head for Elland Road buoyed by their best home win of the season after the midweek hammering of Preston.

Carrick said: "They're a very good team with largely Premier League players or players who've experienced the Premier League, but the boys have shown against Southampton and Leicester that we are capable of challenging and playing well against teams that have come down. If we play what we're capable of we have a chance. I'm not saying it will be easy but we'll look forward to it and be ready.

"I wouldn't really say it's a measuring stick, it's just another game for us. Of course it's a tough game. It's one of the tougher games on paper and we're aware of the challenge but it won't make or break the season in terms of telling us if we're good enough or not good enough."