Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson has hinted that Steve Agnew will be Aitor Karanka's long-term successor.
Gibson placed assistant head coach Agnew in charge of team affairs on Thursday after Spaniard Karanka's reign had come to a close.
In the process, he handed Agnew a chance to stake a claim for the job and is hoping he takes it.
Speaking ahead of Sunday's visit of Manchester United, Gibson told the club's official website, www.mfc.co.uk: "Steve will have full autonomy as first-team coach. I hope he's here this time next year or the year after.
"He has a lot of qualities. He is a very good coach, a deep thinker, loads of experience, knows this club, is a man of integrity and the players trust and like him.
"I've known him a long, long time and he's a smashing lad. I think he can be the glue to unify us completely."
Agnew has little time in which to make an impact with Boro languishing inside the Premier League relegation zone, but Gibson is confident he has enough to work with.
He said: "I think the squad is good enough to stay up, but it has been a difficult period. Perhaps we are low on confidence and it's Steve's job to raise that."
Gibson also paid tribute to Karanka, who guided the club back into the top flight at the end of last season.
He said: "He's handled it with great dignity. He's a great guy and he's part of our history. He achieved something very difficult.
"We are better because of him and I hope he is better because of the experience. We wish him all the very best. He deserves a good future in the game.
"He took us from a club that was struggling in the Championship to the Premier League.
"He's a special guy and we will stay friends, our families will stay friends, and we will have a beer and have some dinner and we will always be friends."