Nottingham Forest have this morning announced that the club have parted company with manager Aitor Karanka after the Spaniard asked to be released from his contract.
Forest are within four points of the Championship play-offs after beating top-of-the-table Leeds in their last league fixture, but an irretrievable breakdown in the relationship between Karanka and the board has seen the former vacate his position.
*Magic Roundabout theme music plays* https://t.co/rdFO5xZOS0
— Who Ate All The Pies (@waatpies) 11 January 2019
Talk to most Forest fans and they’ll tell you that, while by no means perfect, Karanka is the best manager we’ve seen at the club in several years – and there have been plenty (10 full-time managers and myriad interims and caretakers since June of 2011).
The improvement was obvious, there was a sense of renewed focus. The atmosphere was largely positive again. Everybody seemed to be pulling in the same direction for the first time in a long time. We were keeping pace with the top six, and then… the old familiar sound of the guillotine coming down.
Word is that Karanka was rightly perturbed after learning that the board had quietly drawn up a list of replacements while Forest were going through a minor rough patch over Christmas. Five games passed without a win and the team slipped out of the play-off spots. With promotion heavily gambled upon (transfer records were broken), this was unacceptable.
An inescapable fact is that Forest are only seven points before off than they were at this stage last season – a season in which owner Evangelos Marinakis’ was still attempting to steady the ship after the utterly ludicrous Fawaz years. 2018/19 was supposed to be about gunning for promotion to the Premier League and Karanka, perhaps harshly, has been found shy of the mark.
So just who will be the next stooge? Gary Rowett and Slavisa Jokanovic are both being heavily touted, though it’s reported that Forest are preparing an fairly audacious approach for ex-Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim, who has just rebuffed an offer to take over at Lyon.
In a nutshell, everything was fine under Karanka so the owners need to get it *absolutely spot-on* from here if they have any hopes of keeping jaded supporters on side and retaining their brittle faith.