Jose Mourinho has said he could name Middlesbrough players who failed Aitor Karanka before the Spaniard’s exit from the relegation strugglers.
Head coach Karanka left Boro, who sit in 19th place in the Premier League table, on Thursday.
His departure came three years and four months into his reign and followed lengthy talks with chairman Steve Gibson.
Gibson has insisted the man who was previously assistant to Mourinho at Real Madrid left of his own accord, dismissing reports he was sacked.
Boro play Mourinho’s Manchester United on Sunday in the Premier League, and are set to have caretaker boss Steve Agnew in charge.
Middlesbrough have not won in the Premier League since December 17.
Mourinho was asked if it had been a case of player power undoing the work of Karanka, in the same way that speculation has suggested Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester reign was ended.
“But in this case I know the names,” Mourinho said.
Mourinho also sarcastically said: “I think he deserves to be sacked.
“In the first year when he arrived, the team was going to League One and he saved the team. In the second year, he took the team to Wembley to play the play-off final. In the third year, he had direct promotion. I think on the fourth year he deserved to be sacked.”