Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson has revealed Aitor Karanka "sacrificed himself" after failing to drag the club out of their relegation tailspin.
The Spaniard parted company with Boro, who sit in 19th place in the Premier League table, on Thursday three years and four months into his reign following lengthy talks with Gibson.
However, the Teesside businessman has insisted to the Times that the man who was mentored by Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid left of his own accord, while also suggesting Karanka's assistant Steve Agnew could yet be appointed permanent boss.
I know people are cynical when you say that a decision was mutual, but he wasn't sacked. He sacrificed himself.
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 learnt an enormous amount from this experience.
He's got a wonderful future in football - I really think that.
I've known Steve [Agnew] a long time. He's a very good coach and a very good number two. There's more to him than people know and a bit more steel.
Steve could be a surprise number one. That may disappoint those people who want glamour and somebody to come in ready-made, a sexy name, but that's not what we need at this point.
I want to find out about Steve.
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Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka has warned Premier League champions Leicester they will not get want-away midfielder Gaston Ramirez on the cheap.
Karanka confirmed that the 26-year-old Uruguay international has handed in a transfer request, and that the Foxes have had a bid for his services rejected as he faces a battle to hang on to a man the Teessiders worked hard to sign on a permanent basis during the summer.
Karanka said: "Yes, he's handed in a transfer request, but the offer that we received is not good enough.
"It's more than difficult, it's frustrating because he was calling us to play here last season. He played his best last season, he went back to the national team again playing with us and to have this situation is frustrating as a coach and as a person."
Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri was coy when asked a bout the situation at his pre-match press conference.
The Italian said: "This is not my matter. I am head coach, I am not manager. I don't speak about money."
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