Middlesbrough have sacked manager Aitor Karanka as they desperately attempt to stave off the threat of relegation. Karanka led Boro to Premier League promotion last season but his style of play has been found wanting in England's top flight so far.

Middlesbrough are the lowest scorers in the Premier League this season with just 19 goals to their name. They currently lie in 19th place with just 22 points, three adrift of Crystal Palace in 17th.

Assistant manager Steve Agnew will take control of first-team matters ahead of their fixture against Manchester United this weekend. The Middlesbrough hierarchy will now be on the search for Karanka's replacement, with Agnew, former boss Steve McClaren and Claudio Ranieri the early front runners for the Riverside hotseat.

In a statement on their official website, Middlesbrough revealed that both they and Karanka agreed it was in the "best interests" of the club to part company. The 43-year-old Spaniard was appointed manager three-and-a-half years ago and thanked the Boro hierarchy for the "wonderful opportunity" they afforded him.

"I'd like to thank Middlesbrough for a wonderful opportunity and the players, staff and all the people at the club who I have worked with," Karanka said in a statement.

"I'd also like to thank the fans for their support. This club will always hold a special place for me and I wish everyone connected with Middlesbrough Football Club the very best for the future."

Agnew is now charged with hauling Middlesbrough out of their current slump, which has seen them fail to win a Premier League match in 2017. The former Leicester City, Sunderland and York City midfielder's task of emerging victorious at the Riverside Stadium on Sunday is incredibly difficult, given his side's recent form and the fact that Manchester United have not suffered a reverse in the league since late October.

Aitor Karanka
Karanka's time in the Middlesbrough hotseat is up. Getty Images