AITOR Karanka is out to postpone Burnley’s promotion party and become the first team this season to do the double over Sean Dyche’s second placed Clarets – even though they are the Championship team he most admires.
Three points against Boro – revenge for their Boxing Day defeat – could mean a place in the Premier League for Burnley, should Derby drop points at home to Huddersfield.
But while Karanka deems them worthy of promotion, he is not prepared to roll over for them.
“I said when we played against Burnley on Boxing Day that I thought they were the best team in the league. Leicester or other teams might have better players – and by that I don’t mean that Burnley do not have good players – but Burnley is the best team as a team. That will make it a difficult game for us,” said Karanka, who sites Burnley as the blueprint for others to follow, giving credit to counterpart Dyche.
“I think every team in the league can learn something from Burnley. They are a very good team. The coach has brought a group of players together and turned them into a very strong team.
“As a coach, one of the most pleasurable things is when you can see the coaching work you have put in out on the pitch. Burnley are the best example in the league of that.
“When you watch Burnley play, you can see what the coach has been doing in training.”
But with just one defeat in eight games, winning their last three – including doing Burnley a favour by beating Derby, Middlesbrough come to Turf Moor in good shape, and confident of putting Claret celebrations on hold.
“It’s a good game, a great game for us against a team who can be promoted this weekend, but we go there to win the game," said the Spaniard.
“It’s the best moment for them to take their promotion.
“They are playing at home and they still have more games to get it. So for that reason, I think they will be calm.
“We don’t go there to celebrate their promotion. We are in a good way now and so we go there with the players we have to win the game.
“The best way to prepare for the next season is to finish the current one strongly.
“The most important thing now is to finish off strongly because that means you will go into the summer much more comfortable.
“It is the best way to prepare for what comes next.”