Michael Carrick urges Middlesbrough to evoke spirit of 2004 against Chelsea | Middlesbrough

Michael Carrick has challenged Middlesbrough’s players to recapture the spirit of 2004 as they prepare to face Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at the Riverside on Tuesday night.

The Middlesbrough manager hopes that by repeating that feat, his young Championship team can ultimately emulate Juninho, Boudewijn Zenden, Joseph Desire-Job, Gareth Southgate and the rest of the famous League Cup-winning side. Carrick knows it won’t be easy for his talented but inconsistent players, especially against Mauricio Pochettino’s fast-developing Chelsea.

“Consistency is the magic ingredient,” said the former Manchester United and England midfielder. “We showed in small phases what we are capable of. If you put all of this together, it will ultimately bring success. The good thing is that we know what’s in the tank and what we can do. This is really encouraging. This is a completely new challenge, but we have reason to be incredibly positive going into the game.”

Twenty years ago, Steve McClaren led Boro to their first major trophy, thanks to a 2-1 win against Bolton at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. “It feels like a long time ago but it was an important part of the club’s history and a huge success,” said Carrick, who was a West Ham player at the time. “So I am fully aware of what this means for the fans and so many people associated with this club.

“I remember Juninho and Gareth playing. I saw the pictures up here. That is the impact that football can have. You can create very special memories and special days for people.”

“Tomorrow is an incredible opportunity,” Carrick said. “It’s a huge, huge day for us. It has a freshness. I can feel it in the players, in the club and in the city. Hopefully it will be a special evening, we will enjoy it and hug it. But we can’t get too carried away just yet.”

Michael Carrick’s Middlesbrough hopes to reach the Championship play-offs. Photo: Molly Darlington/Reuters

At United, Carrick won the competition three times, but in his first coaching position the 42-year-old doesn’t just measure success in triumphs. “There are ways to lose,” said one coach who was considering whether to use Josh Coburn or Emmanuel Latte Lath as his primary striker. “Sometimes I feel extremely positive after a defeat. Results aren’t the be-all and end-all when you’re trying to achieve something over time. You have to lay the foundations.”

Although Boro sit 12th in the second division, they are just four points away from a playoff place and Carrick remains confident of reaching the playoff semi-finals despite losing two outstanding second division strikers in Chuba Akpom and Cameron Archer last summer Last season can improve Leave this spring. “Even if you don’t get results, you can perform really well, feel good and know that things are going right,” he said. “There are always ups and downs, but it’s about sticking to your beliefs and principles.”

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While some managers become polar opposites of their playing personalities, Carrick, whose side suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday, is as measured and calibrated in the technical department as he was in command of the midfield strings. “I enjoy playing football in a certain way,” he said. “I’m not particularly concerned with formations. You have to express yourself, players have to try things out.”

Carrick will be without 12 injured, suspended or unavailable seniors for the visit to Chelsea and will once again be without impressive goalkeeper Seny Dieng, leaving promising Australian Tom Glover as a stand-in while Senegalese Dieng is at the Africa Cup of Nations.

“I see this job as a really big challenge, but I enjoy it,” said the manager. “I love finding out how successful we can be.”

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