Boro Set For Multi-Coloured Swap Shop?

IS IT TIME for some tough decisions at cash-strapped Boro? With January looming and the smoke signals from Hurworth suggesting there is very little in the transfer kitty, Boro may well be forced to sell before they can buy.

Will the top brass bite the bullet and cash in some of the very few prizes assets to recruit the firepower desperately needed if we are to avoid the drop? And if so, who?
Quizzed about the glaring need for reinforcements on January 1st beleaguered boss Gareth Southgate revealed that while he is mentally drawing up his Fantasy Football team, watching players and writing his wish list complete with Argos catalogue page and item numbers for Santa (the source of the leak about Ronaldinho?), he is realistic enough to know that he is actually going to get socks, some smellies and a pair of cuff-links in his stocking. Or maybe Paul Dickov if he has been really good.
Southgate will have chilled the hearts of many supporters when he warned the Gazette that any players coming in may not arrive until the final week of the transfer window and that shot-shy Boro could have to trudge on with what they have got – a relegation haunted squad that has been found woefully inadequate – until February. Early bids are rarely successful he said, even when you have done the spade work before the window opens, as rivals teams don’t want to let good players go. Even if they are willing to sell it is usually at an initially inflated price but if you hold your nerve and keep a poker face then the level of resistance and the price starts to fall as the window starts to close.
We know that Boro do not have the cash to launch a fully funded recruitment drive. As revealed last week, the most recently published financial results reported a £13m loss in the year that ended with the UEFA Cup final. Since then all the signs have been that Boro are heading at full steam towards “a team Teesside can afford” with squad numbers being reduced, wage bills being trimmed, Keith Lamb outlining a more austere era of lower cost bases and lower expectations, and even long term senior staff like Graham Fordy being axed as part of what was described as a ‘corporate structural review.’
Now the boss has taken to using the time worn phraseology that rings alarm bells about not being able to compete with the big boys and having to ‘cut our cloth’ , a mantra that should have been translated into latin and inscribed on the new badge.
Perhaps more interestingly and potentially more revealing the boss also threw in for the first time that Boro may have to sell before they could buy or pursue some more colourful purchasing strategies. He admitted he wanted to make wholesale changes and told the Gazette:

“You want to try to change every aspect as much as you can but we are competing with the big boys in the transfer market and we will have to be more creative. I have some idea of what I have got and we will have to be creative, but we might have to raise some money. I am comfortable with that. I know we have not got a lot to play with. That’s why I’m bringing younger players through.â€?

The heavily weighted words there that should trigger the alarms are “raise some money” and “creative”. That screams out that he may have to sell before he can buy the striker he needs to save our top flight status, or possibly use current established players as bait to land new faces, as sweetener to persuade their clubs to sell or swap.
Which begs the question: which Boro players would raise any substantial fees or be enticing enough to tempt clubs into trading? Sadly, the quickly realisable assets are very few, an indictment of Boro’s scouting and purchasing policies in recent years. There are no fringe players who Boro can cash in, no journeymen pros in the stiffs who can “do a job” for another Premiership or solvent Championship club for a few million, no bench-warmers that are coveted by middle-ranking clubs looking to plug gaps of their own. Most of them – Nemeth, Job, Maccarone, Parnaby – left on free transfers as part of the squad trimming and weren’t replaced.
And most of the youngsters will raise very little or are indispensable – David Wheater is out of contract in the Summer, Andrew Taylor is the first choice left back, all bar one of the rest are bit part players who are very unlikely to attract suitors – and besides, the publicly stated policy of the club is that the Academy production line is the future of the club.
Which leaves Southgate having to face up to some big decisions. The only realistic assets that will raise big money quickly are Stewart Downing, Jonathan Woodgate and Adam Johnson – dare he bite the bullet and take the political risks inherent in selling the most high profile current players or the hottest young prospect to fund a move for a marksman?
Who else would raise big money and fast? At a glance you may get:
Schwarzer – £250,000 – out of contract and out of form … and would need replacing.
Luke Young £2m – money back fairly easily … but would need replacing.
Chris Riggott – £1.5m with a good wind behind him.
Andrew Taylor – £2m to the right buyer… but would need replacing.
Rochemback – hard to see an English side taking the chance and his wages rule out Portugal.
George Boateng – age and wages probably rule out profitable sale.
Julio Arca – £2.5m – easy to sell … not so easy to replace for that money.
Mido – unsellable while crocked.
Lee Dong Gook – unsellable for a fee.
Gary O’Neill – inconceivable the boss would sell his best buy.
Lee Cattermole – £1m – the energetic rough diamond and mooted future Boro captain is a great prospect, but right now? He may attract Championship interest.
Pogatetz – £2m – would sell, but is a battler when we really need one and cover at left back.
Aliadiere – £2m – would sell, but is brightest spark going forward.
Tuncay – £3-4m – would maybe sell, but wages probably rule out return to obvious buyers in Turkey.
Which leaves who exactly? Stewart Downing has long attracted envious glances from other clubs. Spurs are perennial stalkers and Everton have registered an interest while Manchester City have also had a sniff. Forget the boo boys – Boro and England – and any concerns about a currebt dip in form: if Stewy became available there would be no shortage of takers for a natural left footer who has pace and a pin-point delivery. He may shine on a bigger stage and arguably in career terns it is the right time for him to move on.
There has been talk of the local lad being unhappy at getting a chicken run roasting this term – after all he is the top scorer, the assist king and the first Teessider at the World Cup since Alan Peacock so is a legitimate target. It was denied but stories like that in the national press cause ears to prick up and big clubs will have been running the rule over him. He would be snapped up quickly for £8m and if Boro could contrive a bidding war he could raise significantly more.
That could tempt Boro – especially with Tuncay able to play on the left and young guns Adam Johnston waiting in the wings.
Jonathan Woodgate has had a slow start to the campaign and after missing pre-season has struggled to hit the imperious heights of last season when his weekly excellence made his £7m fee seem a bargain. But last term he had big goals to aim at: proving his fitness, resurrecting his reputation, reclaiming his England place and earning a move away from Madrid after Real decided he had no future there. He achieved all those but it seems this term he has yet to find a new challenge to motivate himself to reach his highest standards.
But without question there would be takers. There will be clubs and managers who believe he can soon be brought up to speed and playing back at his best. And they are probably right. Woody at his best is a class act and his fitness record over the past two seasons is better than John Terry. The demands of two games a week in the Big Four may be beyond him but the second ranked clubs would want him: you could see a bidding war developing between Spurs, Man City, Portsmouth, Everton and Newcastle which could see Boro get their money back.
Again that could tempt Boro, especially as Huth and Pogatetz are fit again and Wheater has been a revelation. With those, Riggott and maybe Matthew Bates available again before the end of the window it could be a position Boro feel they have adequate cover in.
More importantly the pair could prove compelling bargaining chips in ‘creative’ swap deals. Woodgate for Newcastle’s Ameobi and N’Zogbia is not beyond the realms of possibility and bot the valuations and wages would probably stack up. Nor is Downing for Defoe or Keane at Spurs too hard to imagine. I’m sure everyone on Planet Boro could come up with similar deals of equal weight, cost and probability. It may be the best way forward. It may be the only way forward as getting cash for them is no guarantee of being able to invest effectively and if other clubs won’t release the players we need we will have money burning a hole in our pockets as we go down.
The only other viable exit is Johnson. He is wanted badly by Watford, runaway Championship leaders and with one eye on next year’s Premiership pot already, where he made a dramatic impression on loan scoring and making goals in a confident side. With other clubs no doubt having taken note and ready to join the bidding the auction may nudge up to £4-5m… but would that be enough to fund the forward Boro have in mind? And would it send the wrong signals?
Selling to buy can be effective. Bryan Robson reshuffled the pack in 1997 as he cashed in Juninho to Atletico Madrid for £12m and Ravanelli to Marseilles for £5.5. That balanced the books and paid for the high-risk master-stroke that was Paul Merson, the creative force that ensured an instant return to the top flight, and left a bit in the pot to splash out later. That strategy was vindicated by the instant promotion.
But selling can also be the kiss of death. If you sell off your best players and bring in worse ones you are on a slippery slope to struggling with a lower skills base and with fewer assets you have less room for maneovere . In the 1981 post-Wolves spiral of decline Charlie Amer started selling off the brightest and the best in the Great Ayresome Sports Hall Bring and Buy Sale that was the source of the stench of death that enveloped the club in an advanced state self-imposed paralysis and just waiting for the liquidators.
Last week we were looking through the entrails of the club’s history for parallels with the current situation. Those who see echoes of the ill-fated 1981-82 Bobby Murdoch reign will be terrified by the notion of Boro selling off their best home grown talent and their long term prospects just to plug gaps in a self-defeating bout of short-termism.
But desperate times demand desperate measures. Now, Lot One, what am I bid for this locally produced young England international? Shall we start with one Robbie Keane? An Ameobi sir…. one Ameobi at the back to the fat lad in the replica shirt… do I hear a Samaras?


126 thoughts on “Boro Set For Multi-Coloured Swap Shop?

  1. Spartacus – Any chance of sending me a photo of your daughter-in-law, that Catherine Zeta Jones is well tasty!
    Neil(USA) You’re right, if the Boro have the same attitude as some of the fans the game is lost already. I’m working on the basis of Ian Gill’s theory that three points pop up when least expected.
    Come on TB be positive, this is football, Boro might turn in the performance of the season and by Monday we’ll all be dreaming of hitting a UEFA cup spot by May!
    My team would be:
    Turnbull, Young, Woodie, Huth, Pogie, O’Neill, Rocky, Arca,
    Downing, Aliadiere, Tuncay.
    Score 2-0, one each for Ali & Tuncay. You heard it here first!

  2. Dear Dicks,
    You think that’s bad?….well I’ll tell you there’s some shmuck posting as Robin Mitton which is my name too!
    Don’t know where this doppelganger has come from but if he uses it again I’ll sue the fraudulent little shyster!
    Will you come to court and support me on this issue AV?
    The Original Robin Mitton
    **AV writes: Oh no, there are two of him now!

  3. Ameobi isnt the answer, I read that he would be better option than lita as he is stronger than lita. Are you kidding me here?
    Ameobi isnt an out & out forward, he prefers to play going towards goal (like tucay & alidiere) and not with his back to it (like viduka). Lita is younger, quicker, less injury prone & will prob be cheaper and get you more goals.
    Typical boro will ignore these facts and go for shola.
    If it were up to me, id try a very cheeky loan bid for….. Shevchenko. Why? you dont become a bad forward over nite, he would be the main man here, something he thrieves on, he can use us for 6 months and prove he can cut it and get goals in premiership & prove chelsea wrong. end of season if he wants to stay then good, if not thanks for the goals.
    We have a world of scouts out there apparently, do we actually have any stationed in this country looking for english talent, prob not.
    I’ll throw 2 names at you now and tell me what you think. 1st one: Henrik Larson, coming to end of his contract and would be worth getting him here even at the age he is.
    2nd one is: Kerlon, that brazilian kid, we were meant to be keen in the summer till he got injured, where is he now?
    Other thing I will say is we need to start using our ex players, we have Fjortoft & Branca in good positions surely we can contact them to see if they can recommend anyone for loan from their clubs.
    Finally… Bring back Doriva!

  4. Richard
    An surname initial wouldnt identify you. There again we dont know if you are a Richard!
    Which blindside flamker are you? Luckily (or not depending on your view) as I post under Ian Gill I do pose the point that three points do arrive from unlikely sources. Sadly that presupposes that Gate will start with a sensible team.
    Meanwhile in Reading Phil and his sister are hiding in the uhderstair cupboard im Harry Potter mode whilst John Powls considers the meaning of MFC. Mrs P is no doubt wondering what all the fuss is about.
    The really bad news is I have a friend coming round to watch the football on Sunday and he is the kiss of death. Can Arsenal declare at half time?

  5. Football, like life, is about choices – the best get them right more often, that’s why expertise and experience are so highly valued.
    Sometimes circumstances create windows of opportunity – we had one after Eindhoven. Unfortunately, Steve Gibson made the wrong choice of coach, and so the choices – tactics, player selection and recruitment, and choice of support staff have been poor. We needed experience and expertise and we have neither.
    Because those making the decisions about which players we may sell and buy in January lack sufficient capability we can look forward to more mistakes – particularly as drained confidence, impossible budgets (relative to requirements) and high levels of stress all mitigate against good judgement.
    There is no point buying players with a poor record of injuries, or who have failed at other clubs – this isn’t what we need, especially if we have to sell our prized assets to buy them.
    In the circumstances, reducing the pitch to the minimum permitted size and packing the midfield with combative players (such as we possess) sadly, in this cloud of despondency, seems like a sensible option…
    As regards Arsenal and the Schwarzer and Arca dilemas, is there anyone who really believes that there is the ability in our coaching team to come up with an effective plan of action that would justify taking such risks??? I thought so….

  6. Diablo Derek Darlo-
    I understand you are a Man Utd Customer ?
    After opening your Man Utd advent calendar, showering with your Man Utd shower gel and slapping on some Ronaldo hair glue (tested only on Man Utd fans) you no doubt pour out a bowl of Red Devil flakes (prawn flavoured of course). Dressed in your Man Utd pyjamas you logon (do they do a Man Utd laptop ?) to a Boro Blog!
    There’s something missing in your life darling. Shouldn’t you be logged on to some Indonesian site chatting up a Man Utd ladyboy? In the meantime it’s always nice to hear from you on this site. In a spooky way you make me feel superior.
    Darlington, Man Utd client, Boro Blogs a strange mix dont you agree? Retain hope there are people out there who can help people like you. I can put you in touch with a footballing psychiatrist if you wish?
    He’ll meet you outside the Magnet in Grangetown. Wear your Man Utd ‘lounge suit’ so he can recognise you. By the way it wont be Bill Beswick.

  7. Hey! I can see the Riverside from up on this cross!
    As if being crucified wasn’t enough….
    Always look on the bright side of life, de-do, de-do, de-do, de-do…..
    Nigel – no daughter-in-law of mine is having anything to do with any more flankers. It was bad enough she married one. An old one at that.

  8. I’ve decided to sacrifice myself on the alter of Slaven ,after much thought and hundreds of letters from GS and SG pleading with me to save the club I’ve made the decision to add a ‘w’ .
    Apparently if I hadn’t been too bone idle to press the caps key on me r we’d have been deducted 15 points
    PS weve got to win sun now the weight has been lifted from the players!!
    **AV writes: I am glad this has all been resolved amicably.

  9. Yakubu got a hat trick today. Thank God we got rid of that useless, lazy, money grabbing loser.
    HAHA. We had the last laugh though, Lee’s amazing and he’ll sell us a million shirts in Korea…

  10. “Diablo Derek Darlo-
    I understand you are a Man Utd Customer ?”
    By ‘eck, theres no fooling you, is there Sherlock!
    ” In a spooky way you make me feel superior.”
    Considering that you live in the “worst place in England” and your football team is a national joke, I suppose you have to cling to any positives you can so if “feeling superior to me” floats your boat, I am very pleased for you Ethel.
    “I can put you in touch with a footballing psychiatrist if you wish?” Save the visit to the psychiatrist for yourself and your chums, you need it to rid yourselves of the negativity that comes from living in your town and following your football club.
    By the way, did I ever mention that Bury FC have won “meaningful” trophIES in their existance. Do you think Boro will ever win one?
    Merry Christmas……

  11. AV
    In following the debate closely on this thread, it still seems to me that a lot of people are missing the obvious.
    I was called “an idiot” on the previous thread for mentioning asset stripping, however even someone with a feeble mind like myself can see what is happening, it has happened before.
    A business man comes in who pledges to take the club to new heights and indeed usually has some initial form of success, instead of that success being built on, it all turns pear shaped from there.
    I have no axe to grind against SG and indeed in my last post I said he was responsible for the proudest moment of my Boro supporting life.
    But those days are long gone, Neil from Baku touched upon what is happening SG could well be concentrating on other parts of his business empire presumably and I do not think I am being slanderous here, he can use profits from one part of his business interests to support another.
    We need as supporters to face facts, what is the point of mentioning decent players who are not even being contemplated and in fact we are being treated with contempt by stories about Ronaldinho, another sensational transfer to follow the likes of Dean Windass!!!
    Why call for the Gate to be sacked? No chance, the asset stripping began with his appointment and he will remain in place until we are mid table Championship.
    The situation at the Riverside has become a farce, only we could sign a striker who needs rest and have a goal keeper who must play if he is fit. Meanwhile the procession of players saying, we just need a win and a few players`back from injury goes on and on, add to that the Gates comments that get more and more bizarre.
    Dark days indeed
    The point has been made before, I support the Boro, not SG/Lamb etc and will be hoping for three points today, however unlikely!!
    Strip out all that you may Gibbo, the supporters will still be there and raise the club up again, when it is needed.

  12. Tony Black
    The sad part is the shirt probably isnt available in Korea, or even worse, it will be made available once he has left.

  13. av
    thought i would pose a question,we introduced the white band across the chest in 1974. Have we ever been relagated whilst wearing that style? I have been a fan since 1959,and i think the record since 74, is more successful than prior to then.

  14. Excellent win fellas. That’s the kind of commitment we need. Hopefully this can kick-start our season. Great to see Tuncay scoring…he must be close to being our top scorer now 🙂

  15. Tony Black, we all know that Yak has talent, but he was not getting the job done for us, and I think we were right to sell him. Credit to David Moyes for whipping him into shape.

  16. Great win, great performance and it wasn’t because Arsenal didn’t play well, it was because Boro didn’t allow Arsenal to play.
    Can we have the same effort, energy, passion and commitment every game please? If we do there will be no complaints win, lose or draw.

  17. TeesBettingScene..
    We will win or lose the league by our own efforts , not because some no mark little rag tag outfit fluked a win against a knackered and injury ravaged Arsenal side.
    Your imaginary sense of self importance is overwhelmingly funny.

  18. It was great to see the Boro playing without fear. As most contributors to this board realise we have some great footballers at the Boro (our bench with Johnson and Arca on it was possibly better than Arsenals).
    The only worry for me was the substitution of Woodgate. Why on earth did Southgate take him off? He was playing supremely well, he was emerging from a bad run of form and Southgate decides to replace him with someone who has yet to play in the premiership this year.
    Gareth was lucky that Tuncay scored when he did – I wouldn’t have been as comfortable at 1-0 with Huth on the pitch. It was a naive decision.
    But what a great day.
    I understand the TV folks did the obligatory shot of the ‘dark satanic mills’. We have the laziest journalists in the world in this country (Anthony excepted) they can’t be bothered to analyse football properly.
    Instead of showing a shot of a Blast Furnace they should be acknowledging the wholehearted honest and skilfull performance of Manny Pogatetz, they should supporting the selection of Gary O’Neil for England.
    What a beautiful and graceful mover Gary is. People who say he has great engine miss the point, he glides, he’s skilfull, he’s confident, he’s clever and he’s tough. He moves like a continental or South American footballer.
    PS I have been singing the praises of O’Neil for years this is not a partisan view. It’s great to have him at the Boro. Believe me we have a great midfield line up when Downing Arca and ONeill take the field.

  19. Darlo Diablo –
    Why then are you so interested in our no mark little rag tag outfit? Is it because deep down you really are a Boro fan?
    I am also waiting for Fergie to come out and condem Ronaldho for his blatant dive when winning a penalty on Saturday. He was quick enough to whine when he got booked on Monday.
    But I don’t suppose he will, his blinkered and biased views are almost as sad as yours.

  20. Hey that “Darling Derek from Darlo” is a good laugh isn’t he? I understand he comes from the ‘poshest part of Darlington’. That must be a Chubby Brown gag !
    Derek or may I call you Darling ? you really do have the must uplifting effect on me. I feel so good about myself whenever you tap out some inane message.
    It’s like having a massage or dare I say it one those colonic irrigations (I have one every time Schwarzer comes out for a cross)
    Keep it up ‘petal’. I know it’s a bit of a cliche but you really ought to get out more. Have you considered going to a football match ? Rather than wait for when your yearly ‘shopping trip’ to Thailand coincides with a Man Utd tour why don’t you pop along to a game.
    I recommend starting with local football, in the park, gradually gravitate to semi profession Conference level, then up a level to Darlo (God Bless Em) and before you know it you will be able to step out into the real world wearing your Man Utd rattle, scarf and balaclava.

  21. Amazing comment from GS, that he decided on how to beat Arsenal after watching them against the skunks. If he had read this board he could have saved himself a journey.
    Boro need the same effort, energy, passion and commitment in every game. When we get this then relegation will become a distant memory.

  22. Just read that Spurs are going to make a £7m bid for Adam Johnson in January.
    I don’t think that Boro should sell, however with the alledged shortage of cash and the need for a striker, Boro may do just that if the rumour is true.

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