Football

I didn’t get Aitor Karanka sacked at Middlesbrough – Stewart Downing

Stewart Downing has denied claims that he was responsible for the dismissal of former Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka.

The former England midfielder moved back to the Riverside for an ill-fated second spell in 2015 while Karanka left his post in March 2017 as the club headed towards relegation.

Downing, who has been in and out of the team this season, has since been told by new manager Garry Monk that ‘he is not part of his plans’ but he is still determined to bow out on a high.

Downing told the Daily Star: “As soon as I walked through the door, it didn’t feel right. I just didn’t feel welcome.

“I remember going on that first Marbella pre-season trip and saying to my dad ‘It’s not right but I have already signed’.

“He said: ‘It’s too late. Five years!’ I had to get my head down.”

“We were playing Stoke and he (Karanka) put up the squad to travel but those who don’t travel aren’t told why. I asked why I wasn’t in the squad and he said: ‘I don’t have to explain myself to you’.

“That wasn’t the answer I was looking for. If he’d said I wasn’t training well enough, then I’d have trained harder or whatever but this had rumbled on for months and months.”

“The next thing I was getting booed, people thinking I got the manager out of the club but that’s a load of rubbish. He left after an argument with another player, nothing to do with me. Everyone in Middlesbrough thinks it was me but it wasn’t.

“Being booed wasn’t nice but I wasn’t allowed to say anything though I wanted to tell everyone what really went on and if you’d asked another 10 players they’d probably tell you the same thing.”

Downing admits he did not get off on the right foot with new manager Monk but is ready to prove his value to the team.

“I got called 10 days early. A few lads had already seen him and I was thinking he might want to hear my ideas, maybe as an older player.

“We had a nice conversation to be fair. It was fine. We talked about our careers – I had played against him.

“But right at the end, he said I wasn’t part of the plans. It was a big shock.

“But when I get a chance, try to play well and go from there. If I’d left this club in the summer, it would have been disastrous for me. I’d love to leave on a high.”

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