Aitor Karanka out! Really? Nottingham Forest’s performance against Leeds proved the Spaniard still has plenty of support – on and off the field.

There is no smoke without fire and the recent rumours regarding another managerial change at the City Ground will have had some substance.

In fairness, the Reds were not at their best towards the end of 2018 and certain questions needed to be asked.

Karanka put some of those to his players after an abject home performance against QPR.

He got something of a response against Norwich on Boxing Day, but more points slipped the net and the pressure built again on the Forest boss.

Defeat at Millwall did his cause few favours, with it suggested that anything but a win over Leeds would see a P45 put in the post.

Karanka, regardless of the demands being placed on him, delivered in style against the Whites.

It was not an easy afternoon for any of those to have made the New Year’s Day trip to Trentside, with a topsy-turvy encounter delivering countless talking points.

The most important of those was the final result.

Wild dreams

(Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

At one stage midway through the second half, a 4-2 victory was the stuff of wild dreams.

Leeds, with 10 men, had battled their way back from a goal down to turn the tie on its head and send their travelling fan base giddy.

There were, however, still plenty of Karanka chants to be heard, and the volume of those was soon turned up.

Changes have not always been a forte of the Reds boss this season, and he was forced into two of those made against Leeds.

Adlene Guedioura added bite to the Forest midfield, though, while Ben Osborn enjoyed the kind of inspirational performance many doubted he had in him.

He could have been forgiven for questioning his manager at times this season, having been asked to fill a seat on the bench or an unnatural starting role on a regular basis.

A home-grown talent delivered when it mattered most though.

As did a number of those around him.

Daryl Murphy – another of those to have silenced a few doubters against the Whites – told the Nottingham Post afterwards when quizzed on the Karanka rumours: “We don’t read too much into things like that.

“We are here, we are playing and you can see what we are doing on the pitch.

”Every game is a big game for us. Results have not been going our way, but you have to get your head down and work harder in times like that.”

Exit door

Forest did just that against Leeds.

If, as had been suggested, a number of players had given up on their boss as the exit door creaked open, then they certainly did not show it.

At 2-1 down, heads could have dropped and the towel thrown in against the Championship leaders.

It wasn’t.

Instead, Karanka the cornerman rallied his troops, fixed a few cuts and bruises and set about delivering a knockout blow of his own.

Were those on the field playing for him? The badge? Those in the stands? Personal pride?

Whoever or whatever inspired them, Forest showed they are not short of fighting spirit and that the fires which have been burning outside of their control can be doused before the season is out.

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