Aitor Karanka revealed in an interview with Marca why he left Nottingham Forest in January, admitting that the project changed and there was growing uncertainty about his future. At the time of his exit, Forest were seventh in the Championship with 39 points from 26 games, four points adrift of the playoffs with a game in hand.
In words translated by Sport Witness, he said: “I was almost 10 months without training because I wanted a project that fulfilled me, I had many offers, but none had just convinced me and when Nottingham arrived, a historic team, with European Cups and so long without being in the Premier League, I was excited.
“The project was to try to do what we had done at Middlesbrough: a first season of acclimatisation because the team had been saved the previous year at the last second, take a leap of quality in the second and try to climb, probably, in the third, but during the process that project changed a bit.
“There was some uncertainty and I decided to leave at a time when the next coach had room to manoeuvre with the signings.”
They had one of the best defensive records (29) and had lost the fewest amount of games (5), but Forest drew too many matches (12) and weren’t in the best form by the time Karanka left the club – one win from their last six and failed to score in four of those games. His replacement hasn’t fared much better, however, with Martin O’Neill now under pressure in his position.
Since the chance in manager, Forest have picked up 21 points from 18 games and would be 17th in the Championship had the season started in mid-January. Only Bolton Wanderers (14) and Queens Park Rangers (13) have lost more games than Forest in the last three months and their playoffs bid is over for another season.
Karanka was loved by the supporters and many weren’t happy to see him leave, but the former manager said the uncertainty over his job security made his position untenable. He added: “You see that the fans are excited, you beat the record of the last seasons, the stadium with 28,000 spectators all the matches and, nevertheless, that uncertainty is created and you see that it is transferred to the squad.
“The players felt that pressure, they saw that I was in their hands and, even though I was trying to free them, that caused them not to be at their level. In the end, I decided to step aside for the history of the club, for the fans, for the players.”