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Karanka ‘sacrificed himself’ for Middlesbrough logo 18-03-2017

Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson has praised manager Aitor Karanka for “sacrificing himself” as the club battle relegation.

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The former Real Madrid assistant boss left the Riverside by mutual agreement on Thursday after arriving in 2013 and leading Boro to the Premier League. But with the club second from bottom of the standings, a fresh approach was required.

“He sacrificed himself,” Gibson told The Times. “I know people are cynical when you say that a decision was mutual, but he wasn't sacked.

“He's in a good frame of mind. I think he's relieved. He has been enormous for our club. He has progressed us and he will have learned an enormous amount from this experience.

“I had a lot of discussions with Aitor since the weekend. We agreed that a different approach is required.

"Aitor is tired, he has worked so hard for our football club over the last three and half years and the tension surrounding the end of last season would have taken its toll on anyone. Then we had a very busy summer.”

Caretaker boss Steve Agnew will be in charge when Boro tackle Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday.

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