Wednesday 20 September 2017

7 of Aitor Karanka's most thrilling escapades from Middlesbrough's blockbuster season

By Max McLean

If Boro’s season was a rollercoaster, you’d want your money back.

Aitor Karanka became the latest managerial casualty in the Premier League after Middlesbrough sacked him, and with the team having scored 19 goals in 27 league games, it’s no surprise.

Boro sit second bottom in the league, having failed to score in their last four PL games. It’s been fairly unspectacular, but here are some of the more dazzling moments from Karanka’s season.

1. Boro’s surprisingly good defensive record

It might not get the fans out of their seats, but Middlesbrough have conceded just 30 goals this season, fewer than both Arsenal and Liverpool – the cleanest of sheets.

2. Draws against the big boys

Boro fans have been treated to eye-catching draws against Arsenal, Manchester City, and even Everton this year – truly the stuff dreams are made of.

3. Adam Clayton signs a contract extension

It was only earlier in March that midfielder Adam Clayton sensationally committed his future to Boro with a contract extension keeping him at the club until 2021 – how time flies.

4. The biggest of loan deals

Who said loans couldn’t get the pulse racing? Karanka brought in former Premier League champion Alvaro Negredo on loan before the season began, but the Spaniard has scored just six league goals, and one in his last nine league appearances – we thought he would be box office, but he went straight to DVD.

5. Unbeatable

The zenith of Karanka’s league success this season has been going undefeated for three games, twice, so you can put your Invincibles banners away.

6. The second most expensive club signing EVER

Karanka broke the bank for Marten de Roon last summer, bringing the Dutchman to the Riverside for a smidge under what the club paid for Afonso Alves – around £12 million. Talk about a marquee signing – #DeRoon.

7. Goals to spare

The world stood still when Middlesbrough put three past Swansea a week before Christmas – we were left with more questions than answers if we’re honest.

As we wave goodbye to Aitor, we also wave goodbye to the last vestiges of Catenaccio in England – farewell, defensive nous.

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