Boro axe falls on Karanka

16 March 2017 07:36:06 EST

Head coach Aitor Karanka has been sacked by Premier League strugglers Middlesbrough after three-and-a-half years at the Riverside Stadium.

The 43-year-old former Real Madrid assistant boss, who replaced Tony Mowbray in the hotseat in November 2013, enjoyed a successful stint on Teesside having guided the club to the Championship play-off final at Wembley in his first season in 2014-15, before going one better with automatic promotion secured last May.

This club will always hold a special place for me and I wish everyone connected with Middlesbrough Football Club the very best for the future.

Aitor Karanka

However, despite a promising start to the Premier League campaign, Boro's season has gone awry since the end of December.

The club has not won a league game in 10, since the 3-0 home success against Swansea on 17th December, while they have not scored since Alvaro Negredo converted a penalty in the 1-1 draw against West Brom on 31st January.

Boro reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup but were dumped out 2-0 by Manchester City on Saturday, which turned out to be Karanka's final game at the helm.

The poor run of form has left Boro in 19th position and three points adrift of safety with 11 games remaining so chairman Steve Gibson and the board have acted now to try and avoid an immediate return to the Championship.

Boro released a statement which read: "The club would like to thank Aitor for all his hard work over the past three-and-a-half years and for the success we've had during that time. We wish him all the best for the future."

Karanka added: "I'd like to thank Middlesbrough for a wonderful opportunity and the players, staff and all the people at the club who I have worked with. I'd also like to thank the fans for their support. This club will always hold a special place for me and I wish everyone connected with Middlesbrough Football Club the very best for the future."

Alan Pardew, Roy Hodgson and Nigel Pearson have already been heavily linked with the job.

Assistant head coach Steve Agnew will now take charge of the first team for Sunday's visit of Manchester United.

Boro, who are 1000/1 not to be relegated this season, can be backed at 5/1 to defeat United, while the Red Devils are 4/6 to win and the draw is 29/10.

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