OPINION: Nottingham Forest must get Aitor Karanka's replacement right and bring stability to club
Just over a year after taking over at the City Ground, Aitor Karanka today resigned from his role as Nottingham Forest manager after weeks of speculation over his future at the club.
It’s the third successive New Year in which The Reds have faced managerial upheaval after Phillipe Montanier was sacked in January 2017 and Mark Warburton was dismissed almost twelve months later, before Karanka’s appointment on the 8th January.
It has seemed inevitable for some time that the Spaniard would be leaving his role with the Forest hierarchy reportedly close to pulling the trigger over Christmas only for the Reds to defeat league leaders Leeds United and somewhat ease the pressure on Karanka. In the end, it was the former Real Madrid assistant who called time on his spell as manager, though it would appear to be more of a mutual agreement than Forest’s statement indicates.
The relationship between Karanka and the Forest powers-that-be has obviously been untenable for a while with Karanka seemingly want to build something a bit more long term at the City Ground whilst those above him were desperate for promotion this season.
With the clouds of uncertainty over Karanka’s head over the festive period, there had been some talk that he had lost the dressing room but that was simply not the case, Forest’s performance against Leeds, and their spirited display away at Chelsea were evident of that.
The fans certainly backed Karanka too. His name was sang loudly at Stamford Bridge last weekend, as it was at Forest’s previous few fixtures, the Reds faithful sending a message to the club that may have helped extend Karanka’s time at the helm.
There was certainly a lot of pressure on Karanka’s shoulders going into this season. After spending over £20 million to make more than a dozen new signings in the summer, expectations were high that Forest could finally end their twenty year exile from the Premier League but Forest are currently seventh in the Championship table, four points off the play-off places and ten points adrift of the automatic places.
After years of constant change though, the Forest fans were hoping for a period of stability and there has been a definite sense of positivity around the club with many holding the belief that the club is heading in the right direction, whether it be this season or not.
Though promotion is still a real possibility this campaign, owner Evangelos Marinakis clearly wanted more from his investment and he will be hoping a new man can galvanise Forest and help them climb the table over the next few months.
Who Karanka’s replacement will be remains to be seen though former Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic is the early favourite with the bookmakers. The Serbian certainly has the credentials after getting both Watford and Fulham promoted from the Championship whilst Gary Rowett, Nigel Clough, Martin O’Neill and Carlos Carvalhal are some of the other names linked.
What is clear is that this next appointment has to be the right one for Forest. You have to go back to the 2010-2011 season for the last time the club started and ended a season with the same manager and since then, the club has gone through ten managerial changes with little to no success.
Football is no longer game for patience. With the ludicrous amounts of money in the game, clubs want success and they want it fast.
Whoever comes in may achieve Marinakis’ wish of promotion but if not, they should be given the time necessary. It’s never easy to take over a club mid-season, especially when there’s been so much investment in shaping the squad in the previous managers image.
The current squad will be better next season for having this year playing alongside each other and with a few additions, you’d fancy the Reds to be up there once again.
Forest is a club that is desperate for promotion. Aitor Karanka was ultimately not the man to deliver it, the Reds faithful will now be hoping their club can deliver someone who will do just that.