Where did it go wrong for Monk at Boro?
Last night we were greeted with the shock news that Gary Monk had been relieved of his duties at the Riverside, after a decent win away at Sheffield Wednesday (Carvahal also walking today from his post) I thought it might earn Monk a reprieve of sorts but it wasn't to be.
Whilst the timing is somewhat surprising, Gibson and the fans have clearly not seen enough.
It's never nice seeing a manager lose his job, especially a young and ambitious manager who was clearly desperate to do well for Middlesbrough. But, from my perspective, it was an appointment I was never really onside with as a Boro fan. I wanted to be proved wrong but I was worried about Monk's lack of credentials at Championship level, I don't think missing out on the playoffs with Leeds and doing ok at Swansea should be a prerequisite for a Boro manager.
So what went wrong for Monk? I think it's far too simplistic to say it's all his fault and the players need to take a long hard look in the mirror as on several occasions they've badly let him down with some schoolboy errors. But some of Monk's signings and decisions tactically have been nothing short of baffling for me, a barely used Fletcher for £7m? Bamford not being used all season until the end of his tenure? The disappearance of Adam Clayton? These were decisions that were never really backed up or flip-flopped on regularly and the fact halfway through the season he didn't know his best even or system was also worrying.
He also walked into a club with its confidence on the floor and players who look like shadows compared how they last fairer in the Championship, Gibson and Ayala look a long way off the indestructible duo the Riverside was used to seeing. Friend has been quite simply awful when he's started over Fabio and Bamford snatching at chances he'd of put away with his eyes closed before.
Another big problem under Monk was the fact Boro were notoriously slow starters and against poorer sides that worked harder, we looked like a side short on bottle or fight which is despite his faults could not be said under Karanka in the Championship. Some of that about the fight from the players and some of the issues are tactical, I can remember seeing the line up against Millwall away and being quite shocked. Playing with Braithwaite, Assombalonga and Bamford against a team that you know are going to make life hard for you in midfield, Howson and Leadbitter are simply not dynamic enough to cope with a scrappy Millwall midfield. It was a game made for a third central midfielder like Clayton.
Finally, there was always a strange disconnect with the fans from Monk, he'd never really come over and clap the fans or try to stoke any passion from them. He was almost at arm's length a lot of the time which didn't sit well with some fans, the tendency to repeat himself and the bland Twitter posts. I wish him all the best in the future but my gut feeling is the team need an experienced head to come in a work with clearly a very fragile squad. I don't think Karanka is the answer because of his temperamental nature but I certainly wouldn't be opposed to Tony Pulis if we could get him, has a great track record of making teams solid (bland football indeed) but we need to go back to basics. A rogue choice for me would be Gary Rowett, always admired what he's done and Birmingham but he's unlikely to want to leave high flying Derby.
So Boro fans, who do you want in the hot seat?