Deadline Day: Live… Flight Of The Condor

WELL, that was a long night on radar watch and ringing up various national air traffic control centres demanding updates of all Transatlantic flights leaving Latin America. Bleary-eyed but lets do this….

Uruguayan Boro target Carlos De Pena is mid-air and Teesside-bound through one of a dozen possible routes, with or without permission of his club Nacional (but with a nod from the owners of the other half of his economic rights ) after making a break for freedom from the airport and being involved in a car crash that may have just been an unfortunate accident or – depending on which garbled Babelfish translation you believe – may have been “staged” …  which sounds like a great cover so he could nip into the nearby British Hospital for a sneaky swift medical.  It’s like a decent spy/conspiracy  thriller.

He had been due to board a flight from Montevideo for a convoluted route to Teesside and was stuck kicking his heels in departures while the deal thrashed out at Rockliffe over the weekend by a visiting delegation – Leo acting as chest-beating interpreter was fine-tuned. But then the players was left frustrated as Nacional chiefs back home said Boro’s offer failed to meet their valuation and poor Carlos he was told to cancel and return to base. After that things get a bit confusing amid a white noise of competing local sports scribes who seem to have live tweeted in comedy gold mistranslations his every move.

What we do know is he is now involved in a race against time to get to Rockliffe to sign the papers and complete a deal while Boro remotely push through an inter-continental fait accompli on a deal valued at about $3m before he lands. Meanwhile anxious Boro fans will monitor the skies and keep their eyes peeled at Heathrow arrivals for a grumpy red faced old Scotsman with a Manchester United blazer and a Diego Forlan mask.

“Come in Condor…. come in Condor… this is Teesside control calling…. ”


Hot property De Pena is half owned by Nacional who don’t want to sell their star man and half owned by a powerful group run by Paco Casal, a former Atletico Madrid player and the biggest football agent in Uruguay who also runs his own sports  cable network. Generally he gets his way in Uruguayan football. That’s in Boro’s favour but now they need a good tailwind and to avoid any wildcat action by French air traffic control and any hold-ups at the carousel . God speed.

Welcome to the deadline day blog where all is ploddingly routine.  It makes the possible looming brinkmanship over wantaway winger Albert Adomah look positively dull….

***There’s even more bells and whistle, photos, jokes and recipes and kind of yellow-tied hyperbole over on the Gazette’s dedicated live blog. Read it here.


Meanwhile in other news,  perma-furious ginger football bouncer Sean Dyche is simmering as well-wadded Boro and Derby run around in mad abandon throwing money in the air like a drunken sailor on shore leave while poor bedraggled breadline Burnley* smash the kids piggy-bank, pathetically counting the pennies amid the debris to see if they can afford a measly Bobby Zamora or so.

dyche lego








Lego the purse strings:   Dug-out destitute Sean Dyche  pleads with Burl

(*Burnley earned £65m in parachute payments for their recent loan move to the Premier League and last week spend NINE MILLION POUNDS  on Andre Grey and also opted to pick up the wages of football’s self-appointed philosopher-king Joey Barton.)

Elsewhere,  that sound you can hear is axes grinding as Jacob Butterfield closes in on a £3.5m move to Derby – which is of course SEVEN times what Boro got when he moved to Huddersfield.  You can sense the seething now about how short-sighted Boro are and how he “could do a job.”

But Butterfield – nice lad, tidy footballer, good distribution  – didn’t quite fit in Aitor Karanka’s rigid 4231 system. He wasn’t quite right for one of the two holding roles and wasn’t quite fast enough and didn’t have the natural attacking instincts to play as one of the front three. Right player, wrong time. It happens.

And he was one of the chips that helped Boro get Adam Clayton so it’s not all bad news.

Yes, you look at the price-tag and that rankles a bit (and who knows, we may have a sell-on clause as one of the add-ons in the deal) but injury ravaged Derby are desperate, its deadline day and the market, even in the cash-strapped Championship, has gone crazy. Sometimes you just have to take it on the chin. And it does annoy Dyche.Almost as much as that perfectly good goal against Boro did in 1997 when he was at Chesterfield.

Elsewhere, purveyors of the popular “typical Boro, they can they never do a bloody transfer right” meme will be delighted to know that that the two biggest clubs in the world have completely faxed up – or “Whelaned” as we call it on the sports desk – a £29m deal they have been working on for two months.


We need to talk about Albert…

Our former fans’ favourite is currently sat on the Muzzy Carayol Memorial Naughty Step with Aitor occasional looking daggers at him and doesn’t look like turning off the death rays any time soon.

We know that Aitor demands absolute commitment to the cause and that players dissolve their individual needs into the collective. The wild-eyed revolutionary socialist in me likes that.  We know he is ruthless with no time for Kie Kamara Tigger onesies or any affectations. He demands professionalism. Excellence. A constant striving for incremental improvement. I like that too. Anyone who falls by the wayside or doesn’t accept “the methodology and philosophy” is weeded out . We know that snarling evangelist Grant Leadbitter is the personification of his approach. And I love that. “That’s football”.

Albert has transgressed from those standards. He bit back. He had a heated exchange. He let his standards slip. He is a lovely bloke who smiles a lot but right now he is making Aitor frown and for this reason we are not happy. I’ve covered some of this ground in today’s Big Picture column. Which is great and includes name checks for Aitor’s Nana and Les Dawson.

Exactly what happened or was said will probably never get out. And that’s probably for the best. It should all stay in the dressing room. Suffice to say that right now the various parties are estranged and that leaves Boro with a serious headache: a first team fixture and expensive asset is in the gulag for the foreseeable.


               Albert Adomah: His situation may come into sharper focus later today

Albert, who signed a new deal just last year and only a week ago was gushing about Aitor and the club, has handed in a transfer request – current laid unopened in Steve Gibson’s in-tray – which means he is ready to sacrifice his loyalty bonuses and a slice of the transfer fee players are entitled too if their employer flogs them without notice.

Ideally Boro would sell him today for a healthy profit and there would be a clean break and possibly cash for a replacement,  time allowing.  Everyone’s a winner.

But so far there have been no offers for Albert. There were a few informal inquiries last week but no club as yet has followed that up with an offer. Talk of old club Bristol City – whose fans he danced with after they beat Boro… which went down well – being keen hasn’t firmed up (and they just hoof it long anyway) while QPR’s mooted move hasn’t materialised.

If he doesn’t go he can look forward to training alone for a spell. Possibly with a full kit-bag. Being beasted by an evil RSM brought in on loan from the Green Howards.  With live rounds. Is Aitor allowed to do that? Can someone check with the PFA?


On a wing and a prayer…


Carlos De Pena is still a race against time with added turbulence …. the flight from Sao Paulo is 800 miles away above the Atlantic and is due into Heathrow at about three o’clock and by the time they get through immigration (precious Italian passport, EU citizens fast-track) and pick up the Louis Vuitton’s they should be in good time   – but who knows what twists and turns have taken place between the competing interests with a slice of the players registration or an emotional stake while it has been airborne? Or who is on it?

We understand that De Pena stopped off in Sao Paulo for a medical during the wait for the connecting flight.  A representative of Nacional’s top brass is on the plane though and was scheduled to meet with Boro officials at Heathrow where the registration paperwork could be done quickly and whisked off the the FA. The bits and pieces can be done later and the physical presence of the player isn’t crucial. So long as he’s signed his bit.

However, naturally, things are far from smooth with the move – in fact is is all a bit of a chew on – with the internal conflict between the various factions within Nacional back in Uruguay still not completely resolved and with fans also kicking off about losing a star player and applying political pressure on the board to pull the plug. And by pressure I don’t mean a bit of booing at half-time. Reigning champions Nacional have 60,000 members who are not shy of letting their opinions be known.


  Smoke and mirrors: Nacional ultras – like to be seen AND heard 

Nacional’s president Eduardo Ache doesn’t want him to leave but seems resigned to the transfer going through. He did after all sanction it, even if he is taking some heat now.

“I spoke to De Pena in the afternoon and he said he was leaving because it was a life opportunity, that we should let him go,” Ache told Uruguayan sports website Ovacion Digital.  “I told him that in this situation he can’t go, it was not about the money.

“The damage has already been done. It would be difficult to get the player back.”

So that sounds good.  But who knows. The club twice tried to cancel the flight yesterday as part of the brinkmanship but De Pena – who sounds desperate to come – went ahead and jumped aboard anyway, possibly with a bandaged head after his prang (his mother is still in hospital recovering from whiplash), and it looked like a fait accompli. Far from it. The talks are on-going. The board are fire-fighting against a fans’ backlash and there is jockeying for position in the boardroom. Tense, dramatic last gasp stuff. Again..

The deal is literally up in the air. They always do this to us don’t they?

Meanwhile a string of ITK Boro targets are signing fast… for other clubs: Victor Moses has joined West Ham, Michael Antonio is “95% done” for the Hammers and Peter Odemwingie… well who knows where his car is heading?

They Jinx It’s All Over!

THEY jinx its all over… it is now!

With perfect timing Boro shattered their long standing Hillsborough hoodoo to take the heat off Aitor Karaka and shore up sagging morale.

Adam Reach netted in a one sided first half that Boro bossed then after a brief Owls revival and deflected equaliser Aitor Karanka made some decisive substitutions and in a final flourish Diego Fabbrini and Cristhian Stuani wrapped up a 3-1 win.

Given the mood around the club – even the boss was prompted to issue a “don’t panic” message in the build up – Wednesday was the last place most Boro fans wanted to go.

Continue reading They Jinx It’s All Over!

Timely Boro Launch Fight Back As Brewers Droop

Talk about a timely result.  It may have taken extra time to squeeze past lower league opposition but it was crucial.

Not just to make progress in the cup and bounce back from the first defeat of the season. And not just to show that Boro could come from behind.

The fight-back that made the Brewers drop was the first time in just over a year that Aitor Karanka’s side had clawed back a deficit – the last occasion was at Bolton 12 months ago this week, a hard-fought 2-1 win.  All that is great but it was routine box-ticking.

The real result on the night was that it helped settle the nerves of Teesside’s more nervous faction of fans.

Continue reading Timely Boro Launch Fight Back As Brewers Droop

Blunt Boro Celebrate Big Day With Familiar Flaws

WELL what better way to celebrate 20 years at the Riverside Stadium than with a demoralising defeat that sent frustrated fans home chuntering?

What could be more fitting than following the swaggering show against Bolton with a disjointed defeat to a limited side who had been leaking for fun?

You could pop back at midnight and Boro still wouldn’t have squeezed one in.

Continue reading Blunt Boro Celebrate Big Day With Familiar Flaws

Honours Even in Madrid Dug-Out Deputy Face Off

¡AY, CARAMBA! Scorchio. The much hyped battle of the Bernabéu supremo’s sidekicks was a feisty affair.

Honours were even as Aitor Karanka and Paul Clement, both former assistants to Real Madrid managers went head-to-head and their teams went toe-to-toe and Derby grabbed a late leveller in a 1-1 draw.

It was an eagerly anticipated encounter as the second tier proxies for Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti shaped-up against each other, promotion rivals but also cyphers for shadows of big egos elsewhere.

It was one of the narratives touted in the Championship trailers, a must-see managerial showdown heavy with sub-text. And round one was fantastic fare.

Continue reading Honours Even in Madrid Dug-Out Deputy Face Off

Hot To Trot. Boro Are On Fire In Riverside Opener

THAT is how you start the season at home: with a bang. A great big one. A sonic boom.

Slick Boro bamboozled Bolton and eased to an emphatic victory with a cavalier display of liquid football that lit the red touch paper on a season of promise.

After all the hype that came with the summer spending, the talk of a reshaped fluid front end and the dreaded bookies’ favourites tag – and after so many false dawns in seasons past – it was important that Aitor’s Army delivered.

Wow! They did that in spades.

Continue reading Hot To Trot. Boro Are On Fire In Riverside Opener

Dynamic Duo Star In Oldham Re-Run

SUMMER: so many repeats.

It was another chance to see what felt like a rerun last year’s exciting episode as once again Boro eased to an emphatic three goal  Capital One Cup win at Oldham with a box fresh Spanish-speaking striker taking the plaudits.

Boro had to dig deep at times against a plucky home side but the quality shone through and fans went away raving about their new frontman and bubbling with optimism. But for Kike read Stuani.

The only real difference this time was the weather. Thank God.

Continue reading Dynamic Duo Star In Oldham Re-Run

A Football Fairytale. Will We Get A Happy Ending?

ROY of the Rovers. Jumpers for goalposts. Everyone loves a football fairytale. And there were two to enjoy in the Boro’s slightly stodgy Championship curtain raiser at Deepdale.

The performance and result at Preston may have been disappointing. Given the summer spending you would expect the title favourites to beat a newly promoted side no matter how well organised and spirited.

Aitor wasn’t happy. But at least frustrated fans could relish two heart-warming stories of local lads from opposite ends of the career path and profile spectrum wearing the shirt of their home town club with pride.

Continue reading A Football Fairytale. Will We Get A Happy Ending?

Boro Are Back! Brilliant. But How Will They Do?

RIGHT. After officially the longest ever gap between posts on here and a yaaaawning fallow two weeks nervously unchained from the secure laptop with the atomic codes, I’m back at work and wading through soul destroying pages of e-mails, google docs and memos and catching up on all the office gossip: fights, affairs, transfer demands etc.

So, what have I missed? Obviously the long waist high wade through a lake of treacle that is trying to make contact with the Venkeys over Jordan Rhodes.  And obviously a string of red hot rumours that flared and faded as quickly as a flurry of hastily changed bookies odds. And obviously a long wait for the red tape over Stuani’s international clearance to be slowly unravelled by the “Manana” man. And obviously the twitter-storm rumour frenzy surrounding out of favour (and out of shape) Lee Tomlin’s sharp exit before the Getafe game as he was named as a sub, an incident that is no doubt being called ‘TummyGate.’

Continue reading Boro Are Back! Brilliant. But How Will They Do?

No 10: Downing. Sweet

THE RETURN of Boro’s parmo-powered prodigal play-maker can galvanise the Riverside.

If Stewart Downing can hit the sizzling form he showed at West Ham last term, he can help fire his home town club back to the Premier League. He can be a game-changer. A hero.

This is a pivotal moment that feeds into the narrative of past glories, of the big name signing sweeping into town to energise the team and the town and to create some emotional momentum. It could be a ‘Merson moment.”

Continue reading No 10: Downing. Sweet