Aitor Karanka has left Middlesbrough with the club just one place off the bottom of the table.
Who will replace him at The Riverside?

Fans are already taking their positions in the betting markets…

Assistant coach Steve Agnew has been placed in control of the first team and will no doubt be prominent in the early betting.

Craig Shakespeare’s good showing at Leicester following Claudio Ranieri’s departure has underlined that an assistant stepping up should not be written off, however this will not be the case at Middlesbrough.

Any manager taking charge for at least 10 completed domestic league fixtures is usually classed as a winner, which would strengthen Agnew’s chances of being a winning bet given there are 11 games left for Boro in this Premier League season.

However, expect a replacement well before then. Other managers attracting early money include Nigel Pearson and Guus Hiddink, but this is a game where there is no form – especially with Steve Gibson around. When Karanka was appointed nobody expected the Spanish Aquisition.

Boro go into the weekend one place above bottom-placed Sunderland following a 10-game winless run, and are now one of the favourites to be relegated.

Though they boast the best defence outside of the European football-chasing top-seven, Karanka has received stinging criticism from the fans over the team’s lacklustre efforts in attack.

Boro are England’s lowest scorers in the top six tiers (tied with Margate), scoring just 19 goals in 27 matches. AK then further blotted his copybook with the club’s supporters by criticising fans demanding a more attacking approach, and he had an occasionally fractious relationship with the board which was not helped when Karanka complained of a lack of signings in the transfer window.

Agnew’s first test is a home game with Manchester United, a game in which Boro are priced at nearly 6/1 to win. If Boro win that one then maybe Agnew’s position will strengthen even further, but it’s not going to happen.

Expect a new recruit, but who that will be?

Agnew, Ranieri, Pearson?

An old fans favourite?

 ..or a Gibson curve ball such as Ralph Rangnick or Giovanni van Bronkhorst

..Your guess is as good as mine.


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