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It was a sensational news in England on Thursday when Middlesbrough FC announced the sacking of manager Aitor Karanka, after seeing the team drop into the relegation zone.
The Teeside club haven’t won a single game since a 3-0 win over Bournemouth on December 17, and have managed to score just two goals in the Premier League since the turn of the year. As a consequence, they find themselves three points adrift of the safety zone in their return season to the English top division.
Karanka had been in charge at the Riverside since 2013, having taken over from Tony Mowbray and led them to promotion from the Championship last season. However, his job had become untenable after his public criticism of the club and the fans. His training ground bust-up with midfielder Stewart Downing proved to be the final straw as chairman Steve Gibson decided it was time for a change.
Assistant Steve Agnew will take over as the head coach for the weekend’s game against Manchester United and will be in charge until a new manager is appointed. And here we bring you three candidates who could be in contention for the job.
An early favourite to take over the reins at the Riverside stadium, Nigel Pearson is a name that is highly spoke of at Boro.
The 53-year old made over 100 appearances during the 1990’s for Middlesbrough and captained them to two promotions and three domestic cup finals. Pearson was appointed the manager of Derby County at the start of the season, but left the job just one month into the season, following some internal problems. Pearson masterminded a great escape with Leicester City two seasons back in 2013/14, leading them to safety when it looked certain that they were in for the drop. That will be a huge advantage for him and something that will hold him in good stead among the Middlesbrough management when his name comes up for discussion.
Another man who has reportedly been courted by Middlesbrough is former Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink.
The former Netherlands manager took over at Chelsea last December after the Blues got rid of Jose Mourinho and managed to instil stability at the club, leading them to a tenth-placed finish. The Middlesbrough management believes that something of that sort is needed at the club right now. The experience and the calming influence that the Dutchman will bring to the club could prove to extremely vital as Middlesbrough try to avoid going back to the Championship, just one season after they made it to the top-flight.
The 55-year old enjoyed the best spell of his managerial career when he was in-charge at Boro during a five-year stint between 2001 and 2006. He led the club to a League Cup triumph and also took them to the finals of the UEFA Cup. He is widely regarded as the most successful Middlesbrough manager. However, fans weren’t that kind to him back in the day, branding his team a “dull” side. McClaren was sacked from his previous appointment at Derby County only last week and chairman Steve Gibson could be tempted to go back to the man who led the club to their first ever major trophy.