After being relegated from the Premier League last season, Hull were hoping to bounce straight back up this season. The man Hull chose to guide them back to promotion was Leonid Slutsky. Slutsky is an experienced manager who has had spells managing both the Russian national team and also some big clubs in Russia including CSKA Moscow.
However, things have not really gone Slutsky’s way since he took charge of Hull over the summer. The Tigers currently find themselves 20th in the Championship. They have won just four games all season and are also just three points above the relegation zone. Considering Hull will have been hoping to earn promotion back to the Premier League this season, possibly being in a relation battle in the Championship is simply unacceptable.
This has finally led to Hull parting company with Slutsky on the 3rd of December. But Hull now find themselves in a very hard spot. They need to find a manager who can come in and completely turn their season around and stop them getting involved in a relegation battle.
One man who could perfectly fit into the spot is ex Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka. And yes while some Hull fans may greet his name with scepticism due to Boro being relegated from the top flight last season, Karanka would still be an excellent choice.
His season in the Premier League was marked with problems such as poor recruitment, most of which was not his fault, Gaston Ramirez’s transfer request and just generally not having a good enough squad to compete. He actually did as good a job as anyone could with the little he had at his disposal and it is clear from what Boro are doing now in the Championship that Karanka was overachieving with them. Here is why Hull should give him a chance.
Firstly because when Aitor Karanka took charge of Middlesbrough, they were in a very similar position to Hull now. They found themselves just five points above the relegation zone and were a side that needed some serious rebuilding after years of poor signings and management, largely from Gordon Strachan.
Karanka did an excellent job in his first half a season in charge. He stopped Middlesbrough conceding so many goals and managed to get them to 12th in the league. That was quite the accomplishment considering the players and funds available to the Spaniard. Karanka had players like Danny Graham and Kei Kamara up front for Boro and the squad itself was generally quite poor.
Karanka would then have two full seasons in charge in the Championship. The first he would guide Boro to the playoff final where they narrowly lost to Norwich. The second Boro would win automatic promotion to the Premier League. A feet very few Middlesbrough fans could every see happening just two and a half years earlier.
Obviously, Hull fans may not want to take two and a half seasons to return to top-flight football. But as already mentioned, Boro’s squad had been seriously damaged over a number of years and needed some serious rebuilding. Hull’s is not quite there yet so it would not take Karanka as long to get them winning.
Also, Hull’s biggest problem this season has been letting in goals. So far this season they have let in a very poor 37 goals in 20 league games. The joint second worse in the league. So, it is clear that whoever Hull bring in will need to tighten up their defence.
There is arguably no better man for that job than Aitor Karanka. In his two full seasons in the Championship with Boro, he turned them into a superb defensive unit. In the 2014/15 season, Middlesbrough let in just 37 goals in 46 league games, the lowest in the league. They also kept the most number of clean sheets (22) that season. Then, in the 2015/16 season, Karanka’s men let in just 31 goals in 46 games. And once again kept 22 clean sheets, again the most in the Championship.
Even when Karanka was in charge of Middlesbrough in the Premier League they had the best defensive record outside of the top six and when he left their defence fell apart.
Furthermore, after watching Boro this season under Garry Monk, it is clear that Karanka played a huge role in Middlesbrough’s defenders such as Ben Gibson and Daniel Ayala being so good as they have been very poor this season.
The one area Hull do not have a problem in this season is scoring goals. They have scored 34 already in the league this season which is the third best in the league. So, it is clear that if Hull can tighten up their very poor defence they will certainly become a solid side. And given his excellent defensive record, Karanka could well be the man to save Hull’s season.
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