Downing at heart of Karanka Middlesbrough sacking

⚽ Downing at heart of Karanka Middlesbrough sacking ⚽

Stewart Downing was at the heart of Aitor Karanka’s sacking at Middlesbrough.

The Daily Mail says Karanka clashed with club stalwart Downing this week and it proved to be the final straw as chairman Steve Gibson brought an end to his three-and-a-half-year period at the Riverside.

Karanka’s relationship with Downing had reached breaking point. They never recovered from the episode last season that led to Karanka being absent from the touchline for Boro’s 2-0 defeat at Charlton. The 43-year-old was keen to move Downing on last summer and again in January.

His relationship with playmaker Gaston Ramirez also suffered after the Uruguayan demanded a move to Leicester in January. The move was blocked and the player’s agent Pablo Bentancur claimed the manager had threatened to quit if the transfer had been sanctioned.

Some sections of the dressing room were sad to say goodbye to their manager, with summer signings Marten de Roon and Victor Valdes expressing their thanks on Twitter. Valdes wrote: ‘When football said no to me, you were the only one who gave me the option to enjoy this beautiful sport again. I will always be grateful!’