I mean.. was he 'a gift' are we really expected to believe that all of the players that worked out were hand picked by aitor and all the ones he had a bust up with were forced on him by the recruitment team (gibson)Funny you mention Downing, he was on Mark Schwarzer's podcast almost saying the same sort of thing, in that Aitor just turned on him randomly so I don't know what to believe as there's always 2 sides to ever story.
The only common denominator is that neither were chosen or seemed to be wanted by Karanka, so with that in mind it would be quite interesting to hear what Rhodes thought of Karanka.
it was clear throughout that he was the head coach and would have very little to do with transfers. downing came in thinking he was the boy, being bigged up and told that he was going to be the main man, prepped for a coaching role etc.
karanka set him straight.. and then some!