SO, lets assume that the bookies are right and Stevie Mac is off to England leaving as his Riverside legacy a second bit of silverware and a third successive European adventure. What next? More importantly, who next?
Obviously the media will speculate over the usual suspects and will spin more than Rapunzel as they seek to out “exclusive” the opposition . Martin O’Neill has already been revealed as the new man. David Moyes plus England rejects Alan Curbishly and Sam Allerdyce will no doubt get their splash unveiling too while there will be a sentimental parochial bandwagon rolling for Mogga, possibly in a dream ticket with Brucie. Or Cooper. Or the Gate.
The day after Mac departs the postbag will contain 100 applications for his job. Half will be from no-hopers, has beens and joke candidates boasting Championship Manager glory or Teesborough League triumphs. One will be from me looking for a cheap and easy column from the rejection letter.
But ten will be very good candidates. And two or three will be staggeringly good candidates, the best the game has to offer. That’s what we want. Boro can do better than a tired list of mid-table maestros. Boro can go galactico.
On Planet Football the Middlesbrough job is now regarded as a plum appointment. No, seriously. Some of the biggest dug-out dynamoes around will be duking it out in car park B before the news even reaches Sky Sports.
The club have won silverware in living memory. They are seen as regulars in Europe. They are chasing two trophies this term. They have a squad that has proved themselves capable of beating the best. They have fantastic facilities and a stable structure. The club is shaping its future not being distorted by the weight of the past. And, crucially, it has the best chairman in football, one with a reputation for loyalty, integrity and backing his bosses to the hilt with financial muscle and public support.
Really, you couldn’t ask for more. Or you could, but then you are looking at the Champions League elite. Yet, outside the big four, which Premiership club is in better nick or has better prospects than Boro? Sure, Villa, Everton and Newcastle have bigger fan bases and longer rolls of honour but they need major restructuring on and off the pitch and there is no guarantee any boss will be given the time to see the job through.
None of the cyclical contenders for the top table – this year Blackburn, last year Bolton, in the past Leeds, Charlton, Ipswich et al – have the structure, the ambition or the finances to take the next step. But Boro do.
A lot of managers want to join the Premiership. It has kudos and it has cash. And even assuming the most tactically and technically aware foreign uber coaches are opportunist looking for a club where CV boosting success is relatively easy to achieve, then Boro would be the one to choose.
And while we may not be able to compete with Chelsea in both footballing and financial terms we can compete with all but the top half dozen clubs in Italy and Spain, the top two or three in Germany and France and all but the very best in Holland or Portugal or anywhere else in the world. Why not go looking for the next Wenger or Mourinho?
Boro can expect that among the applications will be real established names who have proven they can win at home and abroad and who would relish the challenge, the likes of Otto Rehhegal, Ottmar Hitzfeld, Gerrard Houllier (although as a key player in the Ziege affair Gibbo may bin that one), Ronald Koeman, Cladio Ranieri, Big Phil Scolari, Marcello Lippi, Guus Hiddink. Why not? We have a world to win.