Birmingham City manager Aitor Karanka has revealed why he chose to join the club, having previously rejected the chance to manage at St Andrew’s.
Karanka was hired as the Blues new boss back in August, replacing Pep Clotet and becoming their sixth permanent manager in three and a half years.
The move came as something of a surprise, with the Spaniard having turned them down in 2017 when they targeted him to replace Harry Redknapp.
He and the club have been on various adventures since then, and he says the knowledge they’ve both picked up helped them to reach an agreement this time around.
“Three years ago, we had a meeting, but then I did not see what I saw this time. A lot has changed,” he told Marca.
“When they called me, I was reluctant to see everything that had happened over the years, but the first thing the general director did was to acknowledge his mistakes.
“He told me that more than a coach, he needed a partner to run the club.
“The idea is to build from the knowledge that they have given those failures, and that is what we are trying, although we know that the way is not going to be easy.”
So far things have been tough for Karanka at Birmingham, with his record standing at three wins, four draws and five defeats in his first 12 games.
They currently sit 17th in the table, six points outside of the relegation zone but also only six points outside of the playoff positions.
It means that things can go either way moving forward, with Karanka highlighting exactly where he thinks his team needs to improve.
“In scoring more goals, having more possession… a little bit of everything,” he said.
“I am one of those who thinks that you have to build from the ground up. It is easier to win 1-0 if you are consistent on the field than 4-3.
“The team conceded 75 goals last season, and so it is impossible to have a positive balance.”
The ultimate aim, of course, is for Birmingham to return to the Premier League after a nine-year absence.
By the end of this season, it will be ten years since they were relegated in 2011, with the closest they have come to returning being a fourth-placed finish the following year.
And when asked what the Blues need to do to get back to the top, Karanka named two aspects that will be crucial.
“Work hard and take the right steps,” he added.
“This is a year of transition in which there will be times when we chain up victories… and defeats. Winning every game with 11 new players would not be logical.”