Wanted: Boro Players.

Football player recruitment is a legal minefield.

You can’t just advertise and invite applications for a role as you would in any other business. You can’t put an advert on Fish 4 Footballers or in the Racing Post or Which Headphones or Tattoo Monthly or whatever publications players read these days.

Wanted: Right Back
Wanted: Right Back

It would make life so much easier if Steve Gibson and Aitor Karanka had the chance to put out an ad, then sit down with their HR staff and sift through 20 good CVs before organising interviews with the best five or six candidates.

It would give them the chance to openly compare the attributes and attitudes of the potential first team fixtures. And at least we would know that everyone in the mix wanted to come, that they had initiated the move, that they saw Boro as part of their career development and were up for the challenge.

But in football, none of the norms apply.  It is certainly not like we mere mortals waiting anxiously for a letter to see if we have got an interview.

Clubs can’t just invite applicants. That would be inducing a player to break their contracts.

That could be punishable by a fine. Or a transfer embargo. Or even possibly a points deduction… depending on how big and rich and powerful a club you are.

So a Champions League club’s punishment for tapping up could be a £5,000 fine (suspended for two years). But you could imagine Boro and the likes being hit with a £1m fine and demotion to the Conference.  You wouldn’t bet against it happening. And that isn’t just a mild bout of boronoia.

It wouldn’t matter that the player involved wanted to come. It wouldn’t matter that his current employer wasn’t playing him or was trying to sell him, nor if his relationship with his manager had broken down, that he had been told he was surplus to requirements or that his club had recruited someone else for his role.

Forget employment law and the European Charter on free movement of labour, football still has a medieval model of bonded labour. Alright, the players are not exactly serfs and, at the top, are very well paid. But the legal framework is uniquely archaic.

Legally, the current  system probably wouldn’t stand up in court.  It is a clear restraint of trade but the long term binding contract system is supported by the (big) clubs as it enables them to hoover up and stockpile talent so it will stand until a brave new crusader like Jean-Marc Bosman comes along to challenge it .

It would probably be better for the game as a whole to have one-year contracts and free movement in the summer.

The big clubs would still get best talent as they could offer higher wages, kudos and a higher level of competition. Smaller clubs would benefit, though, as they would not have to risk everything on a transfer fee arms race.

And players would have more freedom to break away from moves that have gone sour.

For instance, Danny Graham would be free to find a job of his choosing and not have to worry about Sunderland cutting their loses or trying to work him into deal for another player at a club he doesn’t want, a makeweight to be bartered.

Likewise, Kei Kamara could follow his heart shaped hands and return to Kansas. Assuming there was a place in their roster of course.

The current system has several built-in flaws, not least that the buying club has to make a formal approach and which means they are immediately at a marked disadvantage in any ensuing negotiations.

The selling club, even if the player is surplus to requirements, can charge a premium or invite other bids to drive up the price. Or threaten to pull the plug, stall and drag out talks in an attempt to squeeze out a few quid extra, a process which damages the ability of the buying club to coherently planning its recruitment and – if they then look elsewhere – prevent a deal going through that would have suited all parties, not least the player.

That system is economic nonsense when so many clubs are in crisis. It forces prices up year on year, which can’t help any club bar Manchester City and Chelsea.

It also encourages secrecy. If it is known Club A are after a left winger then prospective sellers put the price up. It also prompts rivals mulling over moves for the same targets to join in the jostling.

Club A will naturally try to do their recruitment under the radar.  So it encourages clubs to break the rules and creates a furtive culture where clubs make secretive approaches.

But not directly. That would be stupid. That risks sanctions. Instead they are forced to do it through middle-men, mutual friends and former players, fixers and arm’s length agents, a chain of murky contacts with built-in deniability.

And that subterranean system leaves dark shadows in which rogues and chancers can flourish. Unofficial representatives, unauthorised advisors and assorted uncles and brothers are the conduits between players and the clubs who are courting them – and vice versa, often trying to engineer moves away to more lucrative clubs or leagues on spec.

They are the source of so much of the transfer tittle-tattle and internet white noise, trying to drum up business. If they can put people in contact and in agreement they can claim a cut of the fee long before the clubs, player and official agents even get officially involved.

But it also adds layers of complication with much of the spadework being done furtively.

They dodgy buyer can have little to complain about if the agent is working both ends against the middle, using Club A as a stalking horse to arrange a wage package that can then be presented for rivals to better. There is no complaints procedure if you are gazumped while doing a dodgy deal. You can’t appeal to the FA.

Football is riddled with ghost movers and shakers making transfers possible. Even when it is against the footballing interests of the player and possibly both clubs.

So much can go wrong when deals are done in the glare of publicity that clubs are also bound to make all the early moves at an arms length. The reality is that clubs often make initial contact with players through a maze of remote representatives and have the broad outline of a deal in place long before the “selling” club are aware or a bid is made.

It would be far easy all round if they could just advertise the post and see who applied.

 

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33 thoughts on “Wanted: Boro Players.

  1. A very good thought-provoking article AV. By trying to bring the real world into football it ends up rather perversely making those practices sound unworkable and a ridiculous. But you’re in fact right in exposing football for living in it’s own self-serving antequated bubble.

    You’re probably also right in thinking that none of the working practices that football employs would stand up to scrutiny by the courts should they be tested.

    Everyone thought the Bosman case would signal the end of transfers but all it did was make them mandatory for players with a resale value if they approached the last 12 months of their contracts without extending them.

    So can we bring the real world into football without destroying it? It seems the arms race of the wealthy clubs has left the rest stuck with making less than sensible offers to keep them in the game. Here are some thoughts:

    - Transfers: People are not bought and sold in the real world but since they are often instigated by players and agents, who both take a big slice, I wonder if in reality it’s the players who have most to lose if they went. They are also used as a political weapon by clubs to appease fans who doubt the board are ‘ambitious’.

    Conclusion: They should probably go with only compensation paid to cover broken contracts.

    - Contracts: Not many people have the security of three, four or five-year contracts. It’s also not certain that either the club or player end up wanting to honour them as they seem to be used as leverage to seal a deal.

    Conclusion: Either 12-month rolling contracts or at most two-year contracts would make more sense, especially given the uncertainty most clubs have in knowing which league they will be in. They only need to be long enough to allow for some continuity and planning. Though they could be longer if they only covered a lower basic wage (i.e. not including playing bonus, win bonus, prize money bonuses)

    - Academies: We think they are a good thing but should clubs (effectively businesses) also run football academies (effectively schools)? This is viewed with suspicion in the real world but football clubs are effectively running private schools and are selecting the best students and offering them financial inducements on top – now that would probably be frowned upon in the real world.

    Conclusion: If possible academies should be separated from clubs or at least young players are not tied to clubs until they have graduated. Maybe the Football League could then operate a kind of college draft system (like in the american NFL) that allows a greater spreading of young talent, rather than what we have now where rich clubs end up controlling the flow of the most promising players.

    - Money: I don’t think there’s ever going to be a way of controlling the flow of money that enters football given all the interested parties – fans, TV, advertisers, bored billionaires etc. The real capitalist world can’t control who has money so how can football.

    Conclusion: You can’t control a club’s commercial income but you should be able to set rules on how much of it can be spent on players contracts and how much debt a club can be allowed to have in order to ‘protect’ them from unsustainable foolish ambition. A total squad wage cap (annually agreed in each League) would be a good start and stop richer clubs having too much of an advantage.

    In addition, given the League system of promotion and relegation it would make sense to offer, for example, greater prize money to Championship clubs finishing let’s say in the top ten so they can bridge the gap with parachute payments and prepare better for life in the top league.

    Anyway football won’t be fixed overnight so that will do for now – besides Brazil v Germany is calling.

    **AV writes: Some good points. What do other readers think?

    1. I think Werder makes some excellent points, there are some interesting ideas and while I don’t think the big clubs AND top players will ever give up the power they currently have I’ll still comment anyway

      Transfers – Removing the transfer fee [or compensation for a broken contract] would be beneficial to all, bar agents, as teams would have more money to spend on wages, players would be able to receive higher wages and clubs could reduce the cost of tickets. How this would work in practical terms I have no idea, but I think removing the transfer fee is fundamental to the progress of the game.

      Contracts – I have a permanent contract, I’m a civil servant, there are fixed term contracts in the Civil Service, although they are quite rare. If I want to leave to join another company, I would just hand in and work my notice. Could football follow that model, probably not, maybe it should though.

      Academies – I like the idea of a draft system, but clubs having their own youth set-up doesn’t abhor me and how would you persuade the likes of Ajax, Everton, Southampton et al that the new system would still benefit them? If transfer fees are removed, then Southampton might decide that they couldn’t afford to run an academy anyway, as they have made fortunes from theirs in recent times, so perhaps the removal of tranfer fees goes hand in hand with centralising the running of academies and the creation of a draft system…

      Money – I’d like to see a greater reward for finishing in the top places in the division – say the top three, but for the rest of the money to be split equally. This would have an effect on the relegated teams, but other than a wage cap, I can’t think of anything else to prevent them from being much better equipped to make a promotion push than the teams they have just joined in the lower division

      In related news – isn’t the transfer window a form of restraint of trade, or freedom even, by barring the movement of players during the season?

      **AV writes: Not technically. Clubs can employ players at any time and sign a ‘pre-contract’ but they can only be registered to take part in football activity during set periods. There is nothing to stop a team buying a player in October say but they couldn’t then register or play them until January 1st. It would be daft but they could do it.

  2. Just read Man Utd to receive £60m per year shirt sponsorship. How can you compete with that? Does anyone know the best deal we have had? I assume it was Cellnet.

    The old transfer system was much better for all concerned: an unhappy player could ask for a transfer, it would be in the open and clubs could act accordingly and more importantly lower league clubs could boost income by selling a player in form.

    Serious question for everyone AV, what do everyone think as far as a timeline for promotion for Boro before we could be too far behind and it becoming just a distant hope? This year? Next? Two years? Its getting harder

    **AV writes: Sometimes I think it is now or never because of the cash gap created by the parachutes and the danger is we could be here for a generation. But sometimes I think Boro are relatively well placed – no external debt, own their own ground and training complex, Category A Academy. relatively solid fanbase, owners looking to put money in rather than take it out – and that means you have time to plan and are one good run, one sharp manager, one good summer of signings or one shift in the financial landscape away from success. It isn’t an exact science.

  3. You can throw in the peverse logic of fans views about loyalty.

    In the real world we move jobs to better ourselves but accuse our clubs players as traitors for doing the same.

    Clubs are no different. Sainsbury’s want a prodcue manager so tap up one at Tesco’s who in return want a warehouse manager.

    Just can’t happen in real life.

    Anyway, after Werdermouth going off to watch the football. The disatisfaction with hosting the world cup by many in Brazil will be exacerbated by last nights result. Hopefully the shock will suppress any disruption caused by the bloated world of FIFA.

    just seen Carayol and Rhys on Skysports training in a sand pit. Apparently hammies down last season after using this multi-thousand pound facility: £20,000 for sand, unbelievable Jeff.

    **AV writes: There is all kinds of foreign witchcraft going on down there.

    1. Yes, I believe Werdermoth spent the night hovering around an old flame in a local Bier Keller – but I watched from home with a few beers to the sound of fireworks being let off after every goal – which thankfully didn’t wake up my four-year old who prefers watching tractors on YouTube to football.

      It’s a bit like everyone here has returned from an alien abduction this morning and are physically unable to stop smiling.

  4. My duaghter has Germany in the class sweepstake at school (bar of chocolate to the winner), she went to bed as the game kicked off , when Germany went 3-0 up my son popped upstairs to tell her the score, when he came down it was 5-0. I’ve never seen a team capitulate in the way Brazil did last night.

    Any rumours/news on Vossen et al?

  5. Nigel

    I was watching in our computer, TV, sport room. My daughter and she who must be obeyed were watching some rubbish in the sitting room.

    Popped in to mutually top up glasses and she asked how it was going. Match over already at 3-0. 5-0 by the time I sat down.

    Brings back memories of a match many years ago against QPR. we were two down after ten minutes. No internet or Jeff Stelling in those days and a QPR fan called the club to be told 2-0. Delighted he called up at half time to be told 4-2, sadly we had scored the four. Hughie Mcilmoyle terrorised them.

  6. Ian – Clearly you’re well organised with the computer room (aka ‘man cave’), all you need to do now is make sure the missus serves the wine so you’re not disturbed when watching the footiee, let me know how you get on with that proposal so that I can feedback to my missus!!

  7. A right back for £4k-£8k p/w, depending on experience? Well that is more the Finnish Prime Minister gets paid and living up here is more costly than in the UK. There should be a loooong queue for applicants as soon as it was advertized.

    I am a left back (aka over 50 year old). Can I apply – happy to let George Friend to play and keep the bench warm? At least I have experience (if not talent)?

    I hope we find a new right back soon. Up the Boro!

  8. Jarkko – I am (was) also a left back and over 50. Maybe we could do a job share, play a half each. I’d be happy to take 50% of £8k/week!!

  9. Havnig spent some of the morning reading about salary caps, I think that would be the most sensible way for football to move forward to combat the epidemic of debt within the game. It should also prevent Man City et al from building 60 man squads and loaning 2/3 of them out.

    Although I’m not against the idea of Chelsea loaning players out, or of Boro receiving the benefit, after all we also loan players out and it has been of benefit to Stewart Downing amongst others.

    I think when clubs start to hoover up talent, too much talent, so that some of them just end up stagnating and not playing much expect in reserve matches it can’t be good for anyone.

    A salary cap would combat this!

  10. Nigel, so £4k/week – and only need to warm the bench for a half? Deal done. I presume they pay my flights, too. And give me a car for my birthday, and … I getting gready already!

  11. Jarkko – I would have one demand which the club would have to agree to before I could sign up, given that I’d be sat on an unheated seat for 45 minutes they would have to supply me a blanket and hot water bottle. They’ve probably got some in a cupboard somewhere from when Massimo was with us!

  12. Sandbox? What happened to Redcar or Saltburn beach? Good enough for Wilf Mannion,John Hickton and co. Even Alan “the Fog” Foggon played every game. It must be the special North sea air that’s the cure.

    Heard Boro tried to sign a top foreign player: “Sign there son, and you only get to work on a Saturday.” His reply was: “What every Saturday!”

  13. Nigel -

    I did need a comfort break and I don’t intend to use alternative methods just yet. To be fair I never expected two more goals so quickly.

    If Boro were playing my family would ensure adequate supplies of sustenance. For some reason it is supplied in plastic cups and crockery with no sharp implements. I can cope with that, it is the pitying looks that get you down.

    When my son watches with me they know the score at the other end of the house – we live in a bungalow with my room well away from normal living space. Luckily the hall and kitchen are in between.

    Jarkko -

    John Powls and I have offered our services many times because we provide width rather than pace. The opposition would be shattered by the time they circumnavigated ourselves.

    With the influx of sports science they may even have those comfy heated seats. No benches nowadays.

  14. Unlike my missus, who’s the darling of M&S, Next and Laura Ashley etc. web sites and delivery services to Oz, I’m not very good with finances so I’ll steer clear of that subject, but I can’t agree with a “pool” of talent to be drafted out to all and sundry. I could imagine the looks on the faces of the likes of Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling when they’re told that they’ve been drafted to Cheltenham Town and Southend United respectively (no disrespect to either club by the way)!

    I’d sooner keep it as it is because our system has been proven to work and we have an excellent Academy with excellent staff. Who’s to say that the bloke running the “pool” isn’t more interested in who’s running in the 4:30 at Ripon and nipping off for a swift half and a fag. In the development of talented youngsters it is vital that it’s governed by the best for the best, a year wasted in development would be disastrous for the kid.

    Talking of academy’s AV, you state that we have a “Category A Academy”, I’m assuming that this isn’t a lifetime award so what are the criteria to keeping the class ‘A’ academy and how often is it assessed or is it a rolling assessment?

    **AV writes: It is quite strict and is audited annually. It is quite demanding about numbers and qualification of coaches, hours of contact time per week with a certain number of set coaching exercises for each age group, education modules etc. It also demands playing in the national Academy league so that is a lot of expensive travelling for games. It requires a big investment and although there is a grant from the PL the balance is about £1.75m per year and the chairman writes the cheque. It doesn’t count towards FFP.

    The advantage is other big club Academies can’t poach our kids. Cat A Academies can snap up kids from lower grade Academies for a negligible fixed fee (the logic is the concentration of the best talent in the best centres.) It is protection I suppose. And you only need one good kid every two years to go into the team fo rit to pay for itself and one big sale every three or four to make a profit.

    Someone will no doubt have the exact figures but I think since the Academy was launched in 1999 it has produced 40 players who have featured in the first team (most making a living in football now) and brought in £35m+ in transfer fees. It is easy to slate it in the odd lean spell when it seems no players are coming through (it is cyclical) but actually the Academy has been fantastic for Boro and is a crucial part of the future model for a sustainable club.

    I know it is the vogue to say Boro have abandoned their belief in a core of Teessiders in favour of spotty teenage Spaniards (no evidence of that yet) but actually the chairman is adamant that he will support the Academy at Cat A. If he wasn’t committed he could wind it down and save himself a lot of money.

    1. I think a draft system doesn’t necessarily mean good young players end up in League 2 – after all with the NFL model they are picked by top clubs. I think it could probably work by Championship clubs choosing the first 100 or so young players get to play at an appropriate level for a couple of years.

      Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling are the exception in that they have managed to find themselves in a top PL club’s first team but the vast majority only get a few cameo roles before disappearing off the radar.

      I don’t know what the best system is but it should be focused on player development rather than a particular club’s policy of hoovering up talent with a scatter-gun approach in the hope of finding a gem. It also depends on whether there’s a space available in their position in the first team for a young player to get a chance – that’s why Omeruo is available as he’s got world class players ahead of him (and somehow David Luiz).

      But as AV says, our Academy may only produce one player every two years capable of playing in our first team – and we’re in the Championship. I suspect good players are already good at an early age and the better a youngster is the more likely he’ll want to go to the academy of a higher league club.

      Academies are probably mainly teaching players how to play in a team and train and prepare themselves properly and understand tactics.

      So in terms of ability, perhaps it’s what happens at an early age (seven or eight?) that will ultimately determine whether the end product is of a high level – though it may well be that how we develop young players mentally is just as important as skills – drive and determination usually separate the best from the rest. Do our youngster want it more than kids from other countries and are they prepared to sacrifice everything to succeed? The fact that teenagers from overseas are here in a strange country probably means no.

  15. Thanks for that AV, very interesting to see just how the system works and how it’s governed.

    Seeing as we don’t have a limit on imported players in any of our leagues, well, none that I’m aware of any way, and in the light of our magnificent showing at the WC, you would think that the FA would be dead set on planning for the future of English football. The amount of cash that flows in to the FA’s coffers via the PL, certainly wouldn’t break their bank if they were to fund all of the costs of running an ‘A’ class academy, considering the state of a club’s finances of course.

    I’m certain that the benefits of achieving that status for clubs and having a free flow of kids coming through would, IMHO, give incentive for lower end clubs to develop academies. Providing, of course, that there’s a limit placed on the number of spotty faced teenage Spaniards and the like per academy. How about interest free loans even to get the academies kick started at the lower end clubs, then being closely scrutinised to make certain that you’re not just milking the system?

    Let’s be honest, the way things are at present isn’t exactly spawning bucket loads of exceptional talent is it, so I’m trying to come up with alternatives. I’m not saying the system’s broke because it isn’t with the proof of some good kids around at present, but by the same token it’s not exactly fixed either.

  16. There is a brilliant article in the Mirror today from Martin Lipton about Germany and how their FA (DFB) realised a decade ago that things were not working and their national side had fallen from grace.

    To me it highlights exactly what is wrong with the national game here and why the same old men doing the same old things but expecting different results is madness. Interestingly it also coincided with the collapse of their big TV company and the influx of cash that provided. The DFB changed things such as club ownership rules, no more than 49% which meant no big Oil Sheikhs or Texan billionaires buying a “soccer” sports club as toys and playthings.

    Fundamentally and critically though they decided that investing in the youth and developing them correctly with the best coaching and technical development they could provide was to be the foundation. The clubs bought into it and as a consequence there were far more young German players coming through at the expense of foreigners in their domestic game being given an advantage. Ironically here parallels perhaps with Fergie’s “Team of Kids”, Beckham, Scholes, Giggs etc.

    Six of the team that beat Brazil were in their 2009 U21 Team that beat England in the U21 European Final, (we had Milner and Hart by comparison with us in Brazil). To me it shows just what a path the FA are leading English Football down today and the repeated abject failures from which they are too dogmatic to learn from and the “hope” rather than belief that Uncle Roy can fix everything before he retires. Contrast that with Germany’s young “inexperienced” by comparison manager.

    From a Boro perspective it also shows what the true value of a properly run Academy could yield and how mega millions does not necessarily guarantee you success. Planning, structure and good organisational management (young management?) long term could bring far more benefit, sounds very untypical Boro! It couldn’t be that we are finally getting things right on Teesside could it?

  17. One thought about our academy. Our golden generation came from work started by Gibson and Robson.

    They flourished under McClaren, I suspect by necessity when we were playing 65 games a season so it was Hobson’s choice.

    As AV says it is probably cyclical but oddly the downward part of the cycle came as we moved to a model based on the Academy under Southgate. That coincided with players leaving and the import of very expensive flops.

    Since then few have made it but the crucial element lacking has been game time. Even so we have seen Bennett become a regular and move on. Steele and Gibson have become squad fixtures. Main, Williams, Reach and Smallwood are nearly there.

    It isn’t all doom and gloom, a player or two breaking through each season plus the odd prudent sale should be self financing.

  18. Friendly behind closed doors?,We wouldn’t have a number of trialists on view would we.

    **AV writes: No. It is a non-league ground, the HQ of West Riding FA so like Stokelsey if anyone knows that. They initially planned to open it to spectators but then when they got wind of how many Boro fans fancied going to the game as I understand it the local bobbies stepped in. It isn’t really geared up for a big crowd and when they couldn’t put the required stewarding arrangements in police the police advised them to reconsider.

  19. Good piece AV and an excellent post by Werdermouth. The blog is having a strong off-season.

    I think Academies are perhaps the one area where the “real” world can learn from football.

    I see them less as schools, where youngsters learn generic subjects, and more as young apprenticeships where not only can young talents learn their future trade but also where that trade can be shaped in line with the companies’ philosophy.

    That is where Ajax, and subsequently, Barcelona flourished. They didn’t just teach their students football, they taught them a progressive way of football based on technique and football intelligence.

    **AV writes: Dave Parnaby doesn’t measure his success by how many players get into Boro’s first team, although he is proud when they do. He sees success in the scores of his graduates making a living in the game at all levels and the fact he is turning out decent, socially adept young men.

  20. I know the £4-8k thing is just a throwaway example of Championship wages AV but I think at that kind of dosh Boro could attract some cracking players that are better than we have got. We have seen better players on peanuts almost every week for the last four years and I can’t believe Burnley players were paid anywhere near what Boro wete last season.

    We may have got rid of the big wages earners (for ‘big’ read ‘crazy’) like McDonald, Glasslegs Thomson and the other Strachan flops but we are still paying well over the odds. The wage bill was £16m last year and we didn’t get anywhere near that level of performance.

    I don’t know what pea-hearted Emnes was on but there must be 20 in the Championship far better than him on half the wages. Ditto Whitehead, Williams, Woodgate and Smallwood. We hear a lot about how Boro are competitive on wage bill but so much of that is tied up in players who are nowhere near good enough.

    I’m glad we’ve got rid of loads of wasters this summer. I’d like to ship out a few more. These people are millionaires and they have achieved NOTHING. I think Karanka thinks the same. I trust him to get rid of the passengers and spend that money effectively

  21. Sport can be cruel. team Sky must be thinking rude words as Froome departed the tour.

    Bradley Wiggins has done what so many Boro players have done, his worth improved in the stands.

    Who would be a manager.

  22. I agree with Ste Mac’s comments about the wages and value for money. Like he says there are far better payers out there probably on half or even a quarter what some of the guys are and were being paid.

    That said I think its the 80/20 principle with the Boro and we have got rid of the 20% who were 80% of the wage bill or at least close to getting rid. There are a few more who quite simply do not deliver the quality that their wages entitle their employer to expect. Its pretty clear AK sees and thinks exactly the same and in time will move them on and out the door. Short term I think its important that he focusses on getting rid of the major wage costs before focussing on the “muddling middle” costs.

    The fact that he likes a small squad of around 22/23 players indicates that there is no room for “projects” or players we hope will come good in time. Getting rid of those “middling” players though will be the toughest task as their qualities and displays are not consistent or good enough to attract attention. Its likely they will find themselves on the fringe of the top 20 with whom AK prefers to work with and will either run out their contracts (and in so doing will become almost forgotten thereby their next Club is likely to be way down the Football League) or they and their agents try and find a way out now whilst they still have some profile.

    Whilst they are an undoubted drain on finances they are not the major cash drains who have pretty much now gone to pastures new. There are still one or two though who will be commanding reasonable wage levels but whose consistent fitness and availability over the Season is questionable. The associated disruption is another cost (and probably an even greater one) that we can do without. Loanees being brought in to cover their availability makes them surplus by default, lets see who is next to reach for a career change.

  23. Redcar Red -

    There is still room for projects though the level may be different.

    Players from our own academy by definition are all projects but are cheap in comparison. Even players from the lower leagues are projects.

    What we cant afford is to do something similar to what Gate did and denude the engine room of the team and bring in projects. That failed miserably.

    Nor do we want unloved loannees who are past it or surplus to their clubs requirements or just need some game time out of harms way.

    Omerou was a success, elsewhere Cleverly did a great job at Watford, Chalobah did ok at Boro.

  24. Ian -

    I agree about our Academy projects or even low cost speculative projects from the lower leagues. Its the luxury projects I was meaning. Ben Gibson could be classed as a project but one which invariably put in more than he took out when compared to the one recently departed to the Swans. And in fairness the much maligned Main also gives 100% when he gets a game, if the goals could come for him he would be the ideal Striker for AK’s system. Meantime he is low cost and capable of disrupting defenders better than anyone and closing down keepers for the last 15 minutes of games.

    On the loans front I don’t see AK bringing in anyone on loan that isn’t better than what we have. I don’t think it is in his psyche to do anything otherwise especially reading Leo’s opinions on him in the gazette this week. Chalobah definitely has something but its inconsistent. Omeruo definitely has something but he is consistent so therefore held in higher esteem by ourselves. Cleverly as you say did a great job at Watford and an equivalent from somewhere for us would do nicely.

    On the striker subject I have a big concern that we are at least two years behind in our scouting and sniffing. Beckford cost Leeds £50K and Becchio was a free, our own Bernie was a £25K snip, McCormack cost Leeds £350K and Troy Deeney cost Watford £250K initially before add ons. Good strikers are out there and not necessarily for £ Millions, its just that Boro don’t seem to have the ability to unearth the hidden gems early enough. Lets hope we can find a Jordan Rhodes for under £200K as the Terriers did or a Chris Martin on a free.

    Vossen may be the real deal but the money being talked about is too rich for my blood and the pressures if he comes with that price tag I fear will be too much. I would rather take a punt on Assombalonga for around a £1M+ and bring in another one or two for back up.

    Meanwhile the Adam Clayton link has me intrigued, if he comes in does that mean we will (or indeed are already) listening to offers for Grant to boost the kitty for Vossen?

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