LONDON • Middlesbrough sacked manager Aitor Karanka yesterday and handed the 43-year-old's assistant, Steve Agnew, the pressing task of trying to keep the relegation-threatened club in the English Premier League.
"Both parties have agreed that it is in the best interests of the club to make this change," Middlesbrough, three points from safety and without a win in 10 matches, said in a statement.
The club, promoted last season, thanked the Spaniard for his work over the past 31/2 years.
Middlesbrough are 19th in the Premier League, with a game in hand over Hull City, who are two points above them but three adrift of 17th-placed Crystal Palace.
With only 19 goals from 27 matches, Boro have scored the fewest goals in the top flight.
Agnew will take charge of Sunday's big home clash against Manchester United, who are on an unbeaten 17-match league run but will be without suspended top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The final months of Karanka's reign were marred by disharmony as he questioned his players' hunger for success and criticised the board's failure to sign his targets in the January transfer window.
Former England winger Stewart Downing and striker Patrick Bamford reportedly fell out with him.
Aside from Agnew, former Boro defender Nigel Pearson, former England managers Steve McClaren and Roy Hodgson, former United States manager Jurgen Klinsmann and former Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew are among the leading candidates to replace Karanka on a permanent basis, according to bookmakers.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE