As Middlesbrough’s struggles worsen, Aitor Karanka slips closer to the head of the betting to be the next Premier League manager relieved of his duties.
At 6/5, only Sunderland’s David Moyes is available to back at a shorter price than the Spaniard. Our 7/1 about Karanka being the next top-flight boss being served his P45 is the best price you’ll find anywhere in the land.
If you’ve read this far and are beginning to suspect we’re using this platform to brag about our frankly excellent odds, well, you’d be right, but boasting aside, the value in this bet can’t be disputed.
Okay, chairman Steve Gibson’s famous loyalty may undermine the punt a touch, but these are extenuating circumstances.
The strange case of Gareth Southgate illustrates exactly how faithful he is. The interim England boss was allowed to oversee a three-season period of devolution at the Riverside that resulted in Premier League relegation, before being afforded the best part of three months in the Championship to sabotage any hopes of an immediate return to the top tier. It was only after all this that Gibson decided enough was enough.
Southgate isn’t the only example either; Bryan Robson, Gordon Strachan and Tony Mowbray are among the more recent coaches he allowed to outstay their welcome.
But if ever there was a manager who might not benefit from the Teessiders’ vaunted patience, it’s Karanka.
The former Real Madrid assistant achieved what three of the four cited predecessors could not in steering the club back to the Premier League.
However, with the best financial backing in the Championship and ample time to build a competitive team, automatic promotion was the minimum requirement for Boro last season. While it was achieved in the narrowest of circumstances on the final day, Karanka can’t have endeared himself to his superiors when he walked out on the club following a training ground fracas.
The spat came after promotion prospects were compromised by a 1-0 defeat at Rotherham, which was their eighth failure to win in 11 outings.
Unwilling to risk disruption by changing manager in mid-March, Gibson allowed for Karanka to return following a 2-0 defeat at Charlton and he ultimately got the job done.
He was backed heavily once again in the summer and Boro made a reasonable start to Premier League proceedings, picking up five points from three games.
Since August, the north-east outfit have added just one more point, with defeat at home to a humdrum Watford outfit last time out outlining, amongst other things, their attacking ineptitude.
With four defeats in five, Boro are about to embark on a run of games that will take them to Arsenal, Manchester City and Leicester, with Bournemouth and Chelsea due at the Riverside in between.
On current form, even the most unwavering optimist would struggle to envisage more than one win from that especially cruel batch of fixtures, leaving concerned fans to rue a failure to amass points previously.
Goal difference currently keeps Boro out of the drop zone, but it’s highly likely they’ll be amongst the bottom three when December rolls around.
If the Southgate episode taught Gibson anything, it must’ve been the value of replacing a relative rookie manager with a seasoned helmsman when on course for relegation and with Karanka’s desertion antics of last spring fresh in the memory, he wouldn’t have to wield the axe with a heavy heart.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing