Phew! So it turned out to be nothing after all, one of those ‘hot beverage acting as a vessel for some adverse weather’ type situations. According to Aitor Karanka, what happened at Middlesbrough over the last few days amounted to very little, an instance that allowed him to hear ‘a lot of stupid things that I was laughing about at home.’ What a relief. A few days’ gardening leave was what it amounted to, dropping his club pass on the way into work and going home to pick it up and then forgetting where he was for a little while before the stadium called to tell him he’s clearly knackered, have a weekend off, we’ll field the calls, people will understand, what’s a day or two with your feet up, right?
So you watch his interview, getting this nagging itch that suggests you’re seeing the very tip of a massive iceberg, and you think ‘Go on then love, we’ll let you have this one; just don’t do it again,’ because the only really important thing is that Aitor’s back in charge, there’s an opportunity to steady the ship for a critical run of games and this is the best way of getting the promotion dream back on its feet. I don’t know about you, but I was deliriously happy when I first learned that the matter had been resolved and Karanka was being reinstated with immediate effect, a swift end to all that speculation and doom-mongering. It felt like we’d won something, as opposed to what we had actually received, which was a return to the status quo. Even the strongest minded Aitor-phobe must agree this is the best way to end 2015/16. A new manager would have fared little better, walking into a club set up entirely for the outgoing boss and trying to turn around all that dipping morale and seething resentment. Let’s say Steve Gibson went for the ultimate winning coach and somehow landed Jose Mourinho until May – you think it would have been any better? There are so many similarities between the two gaffers, how might it have been different?
If anyone has emerged as the hero then it’s Sir Steve, doing all he can to smooth over the issues that are obviously present and acting fast to give his team the best chance to end the season successfully. As usual, the chairman was a figure of calm amidst a sea of fevered speculation and concern – how many club owners can you picture trying to foist the job onto someone else in a panic-stricken bid to rescue our listing campaign? I hope it works, that the brief glimpse of our last ten matches being identikit versions of the Charlton encounter as the team slides down the Championship pole was enough to hit a reset button and restore some semblance of order. Brighton won last night and our fragile grip on the automatic promotion places has been wrested away, but it isn’t too late and restoring Aitor could work as a springboard to beating Hull on Friday, which obviously we have to do, the more emphatically the better.
The vast majority of supporters – 94% of them, according to a recent Gazette poll – are happy he’s back and therefore think we’re better off with him than facing an uncertain future without. That matters. But so does that nagging itch, the comments from a certain B Slaven pointing out that very clear things weren’t right…
It’s evidently clear, from the outside looking in that AK’s dictatorship style of management is wearing thin on certain players. Discipline is essential in any business, but dictatorship is on a different level. I’m personally not a fan of it and would rebel in this environment. Certain fans cherry pick certain players to criticise without knowing the ins and outs.
And so the die has been cast and Karanka – hopefully, behind the scenes a more conciliatory presence than the iron willed disciplinarian we’re led to believe he is – is back in charge, back to save our season. We can only hope it all works out.