Round Peg In Square Hole?

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 Round’s 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: “The club were contacted by Steve Round’s agent, Colin Gordon, last week, regarding the vacant manager’s 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.
“The meeting did not take place after Gordon withdrew Round’s 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.

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8 thoughts on “Round Peg In Square Hole?

  1. The bloggers and posters have been hinting at some behind the scenes disaffection diluting Gates efforts so no surprise in this blog

  2. Vic and Ian
    Well, well, well….
    Presumably this is what that nice Mr. Paylor was hinting at in his recent article stating that the club should secure a new coach for Gate.
    And there’s the ubiquitous Mr. Gordon again – The Ex’s agent too and of ‘all agents are corrupt’ fame. Wonder if he negotiated the socking big contract that Round now has and that his other client, The Ex, insisted on?
    The other thing revealed is that some of us bloggers and posters aren’t as green as we are cabbage looking – as my old Granny used to say.
    Maybe the MFC great and good would care to take a look at some of the rest of what appears with stunning regularity and consistency on a number of topics in this blog and the more refined strata of the Gazette MB. Maybe they could even act on it.
    They could do worse (ooops, they already are!)
    I can certainly offer some hard won expertise on exiting disaffected employees, if that would be of use.

  3. Vic and John
    In one of the recent blogs I posed the question whether the club read the message boards and blogs. Do they listen to the phone ins?
    You cant believe they dont and if they do they must ignore it. The most baffling thing to me is events in the last couple of weeks are so at variance with the stated policy of Gate. One of the greatest sins in marketing is not delivering what is promised, we all accept people have lapses in form but the offering bears no relationship to the promise. That is what has provided the impetus for so much debate.
    Onto another topic and interesting thing about Mr Gordon is he has the same ‘it wasnt me boss, it was the others’ approach that Mac displayed after the world cup. I wonder if he knows Bill Baldrick and Max Clifford?

  4. Bill Shankly and Liverpool were the first to show the value and foundation for continuity – it was about coaches who shared the same basic philosophy who learned their trade over time, however even that came to an end when former playing legends showed they couldn’t make the transition to manager
    The flaws in Boro’s policy are all too evident. Firstly we wanted fundamental change in the way that the team played – too negative, too many wierd team selections with players playing out of position, and some consistency in terms of performances and results.
    Secondly, in order to achieve the above by definition there had to be a fundamental change in the direction of the coaching – this implied that some at least of the existing coaches would have to go.
    Thirdly, the master plan was for Steve McClaren to groom Gareth Southgate and others over the coming years, however McClaren’s appointment as England coach scuppered that. Football has moved on and I was disappointed that Bill Beswick wasn’t replaced with a top class sports-psychologist, and now Steve Round’s attention to ‘scientific analysis’ doesn’t seem to find favour. For me these kinds of expertise are essential components of the modern game.
    Fourthly, Gareth Southgate was appointed with no managerial or coaching experience, and the club was too far advanced for this (with the right manager, looking for top six and fighting for a Champions League spot).
    Given all of the above, with Round’s departure looking inevitable, and with Southgate already – predictably – talking about rebuilding McClarens team, in what areas exactly were we looking to maintain continuity?
    All things change, and that’s particularly true of football. The more you analyse the ‘continuity’ rationale the less it stacks up. There’s no point saying ‘I wish’ but all the same I wish that we’d gone with Martin O’Neill and given Southgate the opportunity to learn the managerial and coaching trade first.

  5. DH
    I cannot tell a lie, it took me years to live down the name after the famous Monty Python sketch about Doug and Dinsdale Piranha

  6. Nigel
    I don’t disagree with the need for a top sports psychologist – far from it – it’s just that Bill Baldrick wasn’t one.
    And I see every advantage in using the most modern analytical tools to supply players with feedback and coaches and fitness trainers with the info to help people improve. But the best tools are of little use if those wielding them haven’t a clue what to do or draw the wrong conclusions from the information.
    Nothing wrong with continuity either so long as it’s continuity of success not persisting with failure.
    Growing your own talent locally and sticking with an English manager is laudable but only if they can do the job better than imports from elsewhere in the UK, Europe or the World.
    All these things are strengths but, as Bill Baldrick would have known if he was a real psychologist and not just a nostrum peddler, any strength used to excess and in inappropriate situations becomes a weakness.

  7. Vic, to answer the “begged question” why was Round so highly desired in the Summer and now deemed surplus to requirements? Could it possibly to do with that root of all evil, money?
    Dare I suggest that the big difference is that between walking away and being forced out by a new managers backroom staff, the former costs nowt and the latter costs a lot.
    We have Steve Mclaren to thank for this situation as I believe the real reason cited in his delayed signing farce was his insistence on the length and value of his backroom staffs contracts.
    I believe he did this cynically in the full knowledge there would be a chance for himself to move on to “bigger and better” things in the near future. This is the real legacy of Mr Mc laren and the real reason why Gibbo wanted continuity in terms of the club’s management structure.
    Gibbo had a golden opportunity in the Summer to have a clear out of the failing regime but fluffed it big style by caving in to Mclaren’s demands.

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