Middlesbrough have decided to part company with manager Tony Pulis following the conclusion of the 2018/19 Championship season. The decision comes after the Teeside club failed to even finish in the play-off places despite having one of the strongest squads in the second tier.
The former West Brom and Stoke City chief leaves the club after 18 months in charge and in truth it doesn't come as too much of a surprise. It is pretty common knowledge that a strong amount of the Boro fans had wanted Pulis out for a while now, with many of them citing both their unattractive style of football as the main reason for this.
The voices of discontent grew louder towards the end of the season as results gradually declined, particularly between March and April when they lost six straight matches in the league which ultimately cost them a play-off place.
Owner Steve Gibson met with the Welshman over dinner to discuss the future and it appears that between them they came to the decision to go their separate ways. Speaking on the clubs official website, Gibson thanked Pulis for his hard work and also expressed his gratitude after the 61-year-old managed to reduce their wage bill to comply with fair play rules.
“Two years ago we invested heavily in the squad in terms of transfer fees and salaries in an attempt to regain our Premier League status. This happened before Tony’s arrival," said Gibson.
“Over the past 18 months Tony has been proactive, not only in the ambition to win football matches and promotion to the Premier League, but also in addressing our financial position in order to comply and respect the Championship fair play criteria. He has ensured that the club is stable and strong for the future. He leaves us in excellent condition.”
The big question now is who will come in to replace the outgoing Pulis? We have taken a look at the bookmakers odds to see who is in the running for the top job at Middlesbrough.
Jonathan Woodgate favourite to become next Middlesbrough manager
The bookmakers favourite to replace Pulis at the Riverside is someone who certainly knows the club well in Jonathan Woodgate. The 39-year-old grew up in the area, supported the club as a boy and enjoyed two spells there as a player totalling six years.
Added to all of that, he has also been a first team coach at the club since 2017 so he will know the players first hand and will have a good idea of what needs to change if they are to push on and become serious promotion contenders next term.
Woodgate would almost definitely be a popular choice amongst the clubs supporters and Sky Bet currently have him odds-on to make the step up into management. They are offering a price of 10/11 at the time of writing.
There have been other names linked too, most notably Chris Hughton. The Irishman was dismissed from his job at Brighton & Hove Albion earlier in the week, but seems to be in demand with West Brom also reportedly interested in hiring him.
Unlike Woodgate, Hughton is a proven manager at both Championship and even Premier League level. He has gained promotion from this division with both Brighton and Newcastle United in the past, which will surely attract Boro to him. Sky Bet currently have Hughton as 2/1 second favourite to take the job.
Other names in the running include the manager of Jong Ajax Michael Reiziger who is 9/2, whilst former manager Aitor Karanka is also thought to be open to a Riverside return but his odds are out at 12/1.
Next Middlesbrough manager odds:
(All odds taken from Sky Bet)
- Jonathan Woodgate - 10/11
- Chris Hughton - 2/1
- Michael Reiziger - 9/2
- Aitor Karanka - 12/1
- Sol Campbell - 12/1
- Slavisa Jokanovic - 16/1
- Steven Gerrard - 16/1
- Danny Cowley - 18/1