'I should have punched him!': Ex-Middlesbrough assistant Craig Hignett opens up on his bust up with Aitor Karanka after Blackburn draw
Former Middlesbrough assistant Craig Hignett has opened up on his bust up with Aitor Karanka during the 2014/15 Championship season.
Hignett, who made 155 appearances for the Teessiders as a player, worked as the Spaniard’s assistant for eight months after Boro chairman Steve Gibson offered him the role.
Karanka and Hignett fell out after Boro conceded a late goal in a 1-1 draw with Blackburn in November 2014, which eventually led to the latter’s departure.
Speaking to Searching for the Shineys Podcast, Hignett opened up on the incident: “He (Karanka) said where were you when me and my staff were fighting with their staff, I wasn’t loyal to him and wasn’t loyal to the football club.
“There are a lot of things people will say to me and I’ll just ignore it and laugh it off but to say I wasn’t loyal to the football club when I’d listened to conversations with members of his staff that he’d had about the football club was laughable.
“I actually walked out the room and slammed the door, I didn’t slam it hard but I slammed it and he came chasing in the other room where I was getting changed and started pointing at me, ‘don’t you ever slam the door in my face!’
“I said: ‘I didn’t slam it in your face’ and then he went for me.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing, I should have punched him! I was that close!
“I went for him and then Leo (Percovich) stepped in and grabbed hold of him.
"After the game I was fuming. I went home and thought he would phone me up saying come round the house, I want to apologise and shouldn’t have done it.”
Hignett returned to Boro’s training ground the following day, yet the issue couldn’t be resolved.
Hignett added: “I never got a phone call, went in on the Sunday morning, sat at my desk. He didn’t say a word to me and I went down to set training up, and then Leo came down and said Aitor doesn’t want you on the training ground today.
“I said ‘right where is he?’ and he was up in his office so I went up and sat in the office where we were which was next to his. He came out of his office, didn’t say anything to me, and on his way back he said ‘did Leo speak to you?’
“I said ‘yeah’ and that was it, he walked past. I think he was waiting for me to say I’m sorry but I had nothing to say it wasn’t me.
“I went home and then got a phone call with Neil Bausor who I get on well with.
“I was saying I can’t work with him. Aitor was saying it was him or me, and I said to Neil I’ve got no time for him, you want to watch your back because I know what he’s saying about you and other people in here. He’s not good for the football club, even though they’ll probably get promoted. I told Aitor that.
“I said at some point it’ll explode and it’ll be a mess.”