WHAT price ‘continuity’ when the club is willing to let a key behind the scenes figure leave?
Captain Clipboard, the coachaholic Steve Round, was portrayed as the beating heart of Boro’s bootroom culture of scientific sporting excellence, a man possessed who listened to audiobook training manuals on the car stereo, doodled set piece diagrams over the freezers in Asda and watched the Prozone screen with the dedication and attention to detail of a Star Trek saddo.
We were told his retention on the coaching staff was a non-negotiable part of the job specs when Boro had a managerial vacancy and it was darkly hinted that that had been a factor when Martin O’Neill and the club failed to find common ground. But now, it appears the club are ready and willing to let him talk to other clubs. Why?
West Brom have confirmed Round applied for the vacant managerial position at The Hawthorns but then withdrew his interest. Albion, looking for Bryan Robson’s successor, said they had been contacted by RoundÃ¢ÂÂs agent (Colin Gilbert, who also represents Steve McClaren) and had arranged a meeting, only for the arrangements to fall through.
Importantly, a statement released by the Baggies said: Ã¢ÂÂThe club were contacted by Steve RoundÃ¢ÂÂs agent, Colin Gordon, last week, regarding the vacant managerÃ¢ÂÂs job and after talking to Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate, the club arranged to meet Round as part of its process of compiling a shortlist for the vacancy.
Ã¢ÂÂThe meeting did not take place after Gordon withdrew RoundÃ¢ÂÂs application. The club does not regard this as a setback in its process of appointing a new manager as Round was but one of more than 30 serious applicants for the position. Furthermore, without speaking to him, the club does not know whether Round would have made the shortlist.”
So, Southgate, and presumably the other senior figures in the club, are willing to let him leave. There will be many who would think that as he was so closely associated with the worst, most negative aspects of the McClaren tactical mindset and that his exit is acceptable, or even desireable – but it does beg the question as to why he was so highly prized in the summer but deemed surplus to requirements now.
Clearly, as with players, there is little point in keeping someone at the club if they want to leave as Round appears to. And he may have reason. Firstly his mentor and fellow coaching ideologue McClaren has left the club and he may find his enthusiasm for the more esoteric technical aspects of tactics and preparation now not so readily echoed or indulged.
And secondly he has effectively been demoted twice over, firstly as Gareth Southgate got the manager’s job and then again as the new boss plucked Malcolm Crosby out of the reserves and made him and not Roundy the right-hand man. You can understand if he feels frustrated.
Having applied for another job it has demonstrated that Round does not share the chairman’s vision of a bootroom with continuity of ideas and staff and sees his future elsewhere. You can’t blame a highly qualified coach for having managerial ambitions. But it does suggest cracks in the structure and that not everyone is singing from the same songsheet after all.