Middlesbrough will make an announcement on the future of Aitor Karanka in the next 24 hours – with talks between the Spaniard and chairman Steve Gibson planned.
Karanka’s dramatic bust-up with his players last Friday meant that he didn’t take charge during yesterday’s 2-0 defeat at Charlton Athletic, where goals from Jorge Teixeira and Callum Harriott condemned the Riverside outfit – under the guidance of assistant coach Steve Agnew - to their second defeat of the week.
The most likely outcome is that Karanka will be asked to oversee the remainder of the games.
They do, however, remain second – and, crucially, in the automatic promotion spots.
Journalists after the game were unable to ask questions about Karanka and the managerial situation, with Middlesbrough’s press officer saying that the club ‘will release more information early in the week’.
It is believed that Steve Gibson’s, and the boards’, relationship with Karanka means that hthe manager’s future is ultimately up to him – with the Spaniard believed to be more inclined to staying than resigning.
Although the current form of three victories in 11 games, coupled with last week’s events, is harmful to Boro’s promotion chances, Gibson is reluctant to cause upheaval by appointing a new manager with just seven weeks of the season remaining.
The most likely outcome is that Karanka will be asked to oversee the remainder of the games and that he will be replaced at the end of the season.
How a return for Karanka would be welcomed in a fractured dressing room would be pivotal to the outcome of the imminent crisis talks.
For all the positive Jose Mourinho-esque attributes of the former Read Madrid defender, he has also inherited his former mentor’s objection to criticism and alternative thinking.
Support for the Spaniard from key members of the squad has significantly diminished in recent months, after rows with Albert Adomah and Stewart Downing, as well as recent comments questioning their desire to gain promotion.
The resentment, however, is not universal in the dressing room.
Agnew – who perhaps tellingly made no reference to Karanka afterwards - rebuffed claims that the players are bereft of desire, saying: “I think there is a strong mentality within the dressing room and they just have to continue to keep that and look no further than Friday night (home to promotion rivals Hull City).
“The players have to stick together. They’re going to go through ups and downs and at the end of it all, we’ll have enough to achieve what we want to.”