Nottingham Forest face a stern test ahead if they`re to find more comfortable footing in the Championship but the appointment of Aitor Karanka may provide exactly what`s needed at the City Ground.
We, as a club, have struggled to compete in recent years, finding ourselves restricted on the transfer market and not having the required quality to push for a long-awaited return to the Premier League, but Karanka may bring around better times in Nottingham.
The Spaniard will certainly be looking to spend to improve a squad that currently flounders in the wrong half of the Championship table and he may well look towards his former recruits at Middlesbrough as potential signings.
Some of those players have since left Teesside but Karanka`s links could bring around a reunion, which could in turn help us in the coming years as we seek to challenge and secure a playoff spot.
Initially spending time on-loan at Middlesbrough prior to Aitor Karanka`s appointment, the Spanish boss then approved a deal to bring his compatriot to Teesside on a permanent basis- where he has since become an important figure within the side.
Those opportunities have been reduced this season though, with Ayala making just 14 starts in the Championship, and a reunion with Karanka may bring the defender back to his better form- and would provide a figure to build a strong defensive line around.
We have a young and talented squad at Forest, which bodes well for the future, but the team is in need of experience in some key areas. The heart of defence is one of those and having Ayala within the squad would prove to be extremely fruitful.
Once the name on everybody`s lips, Patrick Bamford has struggled to find footing in his career after the electric season on-loan at Middlesbrough; where he scored 17 league goals to fire the Teesside outfit to promotion.
A disappointing loan spell with Burnley followed and Bamford returned to Middlesbrough last summer, this time on a permanent basis, but the goalscoring form of a few years ago has escaped him- the 24-year-old having netted just twice in 27 appearances.
If anyone is to get him back to his best, then Karanka is that man and a reunion at the City Ground could be beneficial for both the player and our club. His experience at this level would prove to be invaluable alongside young Ben Brereton, who`s likely to be the focal point of our attack.
He is, of course, Nottingham born and bred, starting his career in our academy and making two appearances for the senior side before being snatched by Chelsea.
Marten de Roon
Another played signed for Middlesbrough during Karanka`s tenure, Dutch midfield Marten de Roon has since moved on to Italian side Atalanta, joining the club last summer, and making 17 Serie A appearances so far this term.
His performances for Atalanta, both domestically and in the Europa League, have often been poor though and he`s another ex-Karanka man who would benefit from the boost of being reunited with the Spaniard.
De Roon would play an important part in our side, protecting the defensive line, and is the sort of signing would could lead to a drastic upturn in form- especially if he`s used correctly.
The Dutchman spent just one-year in England, moving from Atalanta to Teesside before his return to Italy, and may jump at another chance to ply his trade in English football- although his services would likely be costly.