Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka catapulted to the top of the Sack Race

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 24 January 2017, 12:09

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka has been catapulted to the top of the Premier League Sack Race after bookmakers installed him as the new odds-on favourite to become the fifth top-flight boss to lose his job this season.

Karanka was a 20/1 long shot heading into the weekend, but a disappointing 3-1 defeat at home to West Ham saw his odds slide to 4/1.

The Spaniard spent the most of Monday hovering around the 7/2 mark, behind David Moyes (Sunderland) and Walter Mazzarri (Watford), but now today (Tuesday) he’s as short as 1/3 to lose his job at the Riverside.

Karanka came close to leaving Middlesbrough last season, missing the club's clash with Charlton (March 2016), but he managed to resolve his differences with the players and went on to lead Boro on a 10 game unbeaten run, and subsequently promotion up to the Premier League, following a seven-year absence.

Middlesbrough are currently 16th in the top-flight, although Saturday’s defeat means they are now just four points above the relegation zone, and without a victory in five league games dating back to mid-December.

Boro have notably struggled for goals, netting a league-low 18 in 22 matches, although they have been hard to breakthrough, conceding only 25 goals, which is fewer than the likes of Liverpool and Man City.

Boro’s main priority this season is preserving their Premier League status, and despite their poor form, sacking the very man who led them up to the top-tier could prove to be a backwards step.

However, many fans are upset at the 43-year-old's emotional outburst in the aftermath of the West Ham defeat, in which Karanka criticised the supporters and the atmosphere at the Riverside.

Middlesbrough are next in action on Saturday when they host League Two outfit Accrington Stanley in the FA Cup fourth round.

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