TFN’s Hugo Greenhalgh previews Middlesbrough ahead of their FA Cup clash against Arsenal and explains why there is much to admire about the North East club…
Last season, Middlesbrough made the rather brave managerial appointment of Aitor Karanka. While a refreshing change from the same old names on the British managerial merry-go-round, Karanka had never managed a league game before he arrived on Teesside. His credentials were based on his time coaching the Spain U-16s and three years spent as Jose Mourinho’s assistant at Real Madrid. His Real appointment was even something of a surprise for Karanka, who had never worked with Mourinho before. The recommendation had come from former Bernabeu teammates, Luis Figo and Clarence Seedorf – high praise indeed.
One year on and Karanka is doing an excellent job at Boro. His first season was one of stabilisation and ensuring the club didn’t slip further down the table. They were in the bottom half when he joined but he guided them to a 12th place finish. This season has been a different story, however, and Karanka is beginning to put his own stamp on the club. Middlesbrough are top of the Championship following their defeat of Blackpool on Tuesday night and are now 10 games unbeaten. Continue reading
TFN Editor Hugo Greenhalgh argues that the globalisation of the Football League can only be a good thing for the national game…
“This is a real change for our club but football is global now…and we were searching for a first-class coach”
In a year when the future of English football has been debated as intensely as ever, Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson’s comments last week made for interesting reading. Gibson was speaking to the media as he unveiled former Real Madrid assistant Aitor Karanka as Boro’s new manager. By his own admission, he was breaking out of the mould of the “little Englander” in appointing the first non-British manager to the Teesside club. Gibson carried on, “Greg Dyke’s got his self-interest which is the FA and I’ve got my self-interest which is Middlesbrough Football Club”, referring to Dyke’s recent speech bemoaning the lack of English coaches as a contributing factor in the decline of the national game.
The FA Chairman may have had a point that the presence of foreign players and managers can stifle the progress of their English counterparts. However, if handled responsibly, a foreign influence can surely only bring benefits to England’s archaic football convention. Not only is Karanka an exciting appointment for Boro fans, it is a move that hints at a developing symbiotic relationship in Europe’s football landscape. Whilst the English leagues have much to gain from continental involvement, it would appear that European managers themselves are keen to coach in this country. Continue reading