By Okeowo Oladapo
This is a clash between master and apprentice. Karanka, now a manager in his own right, was an assistant to Mourinho at different clubs he managed.
Manchester United are on the up. After a string of frustrating draws, they have won their last four games. If they beat Middlesbrough, José Mourinho’s in-form side be behind the Spurs only on goal difference. Two seasons have passed since United last won 5 consecutive games; during the February-April period of the 2014-15 season, before losing to Mourinho-led Chelsea.
In his presser, Aitor Karanka, manager of Middlesbrough said: “This is one of the fixtures I was looking forward to most. I have a lot to thank Jose Mourinho for.”
“It never really crossed my mind to go into management after I finished playing. But after working with Jose (Mourinho) for those three years (at Real Madrid), I realised that any fears you might have about taking the plunge aren’t important.
Manchester United is expected to win this game but draws against Arsenal and Manchester City show that Middlesbrough are no pushovers.
Kick-off 4pm (Nigeria)
Venue Old Trafford
Injured Rooney, Shaw (both match fitness, 2 Jan)
Injured Fischer (knee, 21 Jan)
Suspended Barragán (one match)