Steve Agnew: Aitor Karanka exit "difficult and emotional"

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That is a sad thing to say about football, the game I love. "I have a clear view of exactly what's needed and that's what I aim to deliver".

Middlesbrough could be boosted by the return of towering striker Rudy Gestede (hamstring) and Colombian centre-back Bernardo Espinosa (ankle) for the lunchtime visit of Jose Mourinho's tired Europa League quarter-finalists to Teeside, although captain George Friend and defensive colleagues Calum Chambers and Daniel Ayala are expected to remain sidelined. But today the players have trained well and we look forward to the weekend.

The 43-year-old, who guided Boro from the Championship to the Premier League last season, was dismissed on Thursday with the team set to host Manchester United on Sunday.

Asked how to get the best out of Downing at a pre-Manchester United press conference, Agnew, who believes he is capable of keeping Middlesbrough afloat, told reporters: "Stewart's a Middlesbrough boy".

Jose Mourinho has sarcastically criticised Boro's decision to sack Aitor Karanka.

Goals guaranteed between Monaco and Man City - CL in Opta numbers
It just shows that the Premiership is a great business model but is not really helping in improving football standards. City did indeed improve after the break, playing with a objective that was lacking earlier.

'In the first year he arrived, the team was going into League One and he saved the team. In the second year, he took them to Wembley to play in the play-off final.

When asked if he wanted the job on a permanent basis, Agnew insisted he was exclusively focused on Sunday's match but added taking charge of the first team was a "massive opportunity" and that he had "served [his] time" as an assistant, having worked under Karanka for two and a half years.

Hiddink has been out of work since leaving his caretaker role at Chelsea at the end of last season but he was recently linked with the Leicester City job.

Former Scotland striker Joe Jordan has joined Middlesbrough's coaching staff to assist interim boss Agnew. "There's more to him than people know and a bit more steel", he said.

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