Mac Back On Market For Mags?

WITH all the subtlety of a flower-clutching former suitor ringing the doorbell of a recently divorced old flame, Steve McClaren broke his media silence to announce he is ready to return to the cut-and-thrust of top level club management and Newcastle fans choked on their stotties.
Amid the acres of news print weighing up the runners and riders jostling to be next to rule themselves out of the battle for the St James’ hot-seat one name was conspicuously absent. The press fell over themselves to champion an Englishman who has won nothing but got results playing direct football with bargain bucket imports and veterans in a like-for-like swap for Allardyce while Martin O’Neill, Alan Shearer and Mark Hughes all had advocates too.
But the domestic boss who probably ticks the most boxes – Steve McClaren – got barely a mention in the fevered speculation… until he thrust himself into the broadsheet spotlight in a bid to rehabilitate himself and advertise his availability after recharging his batteries.

The ex-England chief had kept a low profile since a wave of bile was directed at small screens across the country at the sight of him pathetically holding a brolly aloft at Wembley to keep the rain from leaving his thinning Titian locks and his international dug-out tenure washed out. He was last seen signing off unapologetically at a hastily arranged kangeroo court from which he departed with his reputation dented but a big enough cheque in his back pocket to cover any damage to his ego.
But amid the hysteria over the soap opera sacking of Fat Sam and the on-going speculation over his successor McClaren opted to thrust himself back into the spotlight with an interview in the Times in which he declared his readiness to return to the fray.
And while the Geordie faithful may scoff at the suggestion, the one time Boro boss could well end up being the perfect candidate for the job. In fact, it could be designed for him. Many wild-eyed Toon fans who have swallowed the spin about “the eighth biggest club in the world” may want Mourinho or Lippi but the brutal fact is that they will not come. They are holding out for Real, Juve, Inter and Barca, or failing that one of the other G-14 glamour club. Reviving a long slumbering strapping six footer is not the kind of challenge they are looking for.That is why the tabloids are reeling out the usual suspects for the job.
But Martin O’Neill is just starting to see two years work at Villa come to fruition and has money to spend to fine-tune his team. Why would he set aside his much publicised family needs to start again in a pressure cooker of a job? Mark Hughes is in a similar position, barring a recent blip, and besides, if his star coninues to rise he may well have his eye on Old Trafford. And Harry Redknapp? He is settled on the South Coast, is on the verge of a magnificent achievement in taking Pompey into Europe and as his bus pass looms does he need the hassle? He is a shrewd operator though and can probably find a way of translating the attention and any approach from Newcastle into a loyalty bonus to stay at Fratton park.
Newcastle sources have hinted they want an English manager which means they are working in a very limited market. As soon as they add that they want someone with a track record of winning trophies then the list becomes shorter still. Presumably they don’t want Howard Wilkinson, Brian Little or Howard Kendall. Which leaves who exactly.
Steve McClaren could put an impressive CV together. In fact, measured in terms of trophies, finals and semis he is the most successful domestic manager in two decades. Crazy but true. Real big clubs may dismiss the League Cup but when you have passed the Golden Jubilee of the last real trophy domestic triumph it starts to look like a major achievement. Be under ni illusions as to how that would go down in the Bigg Market. Throw in the UEFA Cup final, a share in the England achievements of the rehabilitated Eriksson and a cheeky claim for some imput into Manchester United’s 1999 treble and it is starting to stack up.
And there’s more. McClaren publicly revealed that an approach from Newcastle when Bobby Robson was sacked so shabbily left his world “turned upside down” for a week, an undiplomatic slap across the chops for Boro fans that drove another nail in his coffin at the Riverside .
Plus the almost impossible demands of the Newcastle job demand someone who is thick skinned and brass necked and we saw at both Boro and England that Mac is a pachyderm who could outspin a spider and put a brave face on even the most unmitigated disaster. If only he could find an audience willing to believe.
And he has compelling economic arguments on his side. Whereas Harry or Hughesy or O’Neillsy could cost £3-4m in compensation on top of the £6m they gave Fat Sam to go away, Mac is available on a Bosman style free. He won’t cost a penny, leaving all the more to waste on journeymen defensive midfielders.
Maybe equally useful is that almost all of the backroom team his would demand are already in place. Steve Round and Paul Barron are already at St James along with an appliance of science army of nuritionists, psychologists, sociologists, Prozone analysts and Feng Shui experts. If they take on Mac then Newcastle won’t need to pay them all off and replace them all with chirpy Cockneys and they are quids in. Go on, give us a laugh. You know it makes sense.
COULD Boro get Rafa sacked? The Liverpool boss is under pressure from above. The league is beyond them barring a miracle and the scraping through in the Champions League was far from palatable given the £50m expenditure in the summer. Having had a public spat with the owners there is a fragile peace but you still get the impression that one big slip up and the axe will fall.
Liverpool escaped giving that excuse as they stumbled to a draw with Luton. Could Boro make lightening strike twice and ‘do an Arsenal’ on the Scousers? Let’s hope so. Incredibly the rookie Gareth Southgate is the eighth longest serving boss in the Premiership. Victory could see him climbing up that table as well.


72 thoughts on “Mac Back On Market For Mags?

  1. AV
    I dont like to be rude AV but what issues can be resolved by removing a picture and story that is in the public domain? It is yet another Hagrid moment.
    We are not daft, we are aware that he has been seen with ‘fashion icon man’ walking around the pitch, it cannot be undone, what were the club doing allowing people to see it on a stadium tour?
    The interested parties elsewhere will already know where he has been. By removing the picture and story it looks like burying bad news or creating interest or putting pressure on elsewhere.
    We are also aware there are difficulties involved in bringing players into the club. It just looks a bit poor.
    **AV writes: Sometimes the media get to know something but don’t feel they can use it: the identity of a murder suspect for instance, or a vital fact that should it become public may compromise an investigation and jeopardise a prosecution. Is that a cover-up or responsible journalism?
    Or maybe, in another entirely theoretical scenario, you may find out that FC Ficktion are talking to a transfer target, let’s call him Hypothetika, even though no fee has yet been agreed and are you are wary not to alert VVV FurstOptschoon who may claim they have already signed him and he should not be talking to other clubs.
    Were such a situation to arise it would be best to clarify the legal position first before getting the paper – or anyone else – wrapped up in red tape and recriminations.

  2. I can understand why MFC accepted less than Yak’s real worth, because they needed the money to buy other players, and he wanted away. (Note that Yak’s goal scoring record is better and more consistent than Anelka, but he went for significantly less.)
    However if MFC accept any less than 12 million for Downing, it will seem to prove that we just can’t get good value when we sell players…

  3. its obvious weve had a rollercoaster season up to now and weve all had our opinions whether frustrated or downright sick of it all or just as you were expectations but to me I see a little break in the clouds,.
    Can you imagine if we do get a decent striker who scores goals on a regular basis? where younger, quicker,reserve players who can slot in at anytime, kids coming through?
    Weve proved we can compete with the top 5-6 teams on any given day, seeing whats going on with the manager merry go round, Gibbo has created a situation where anyone would want to manage this club but we all know it has to happen on the field,
    I think we can do enough to stay up then i look forward to the next 5-6 years of success. w.ham, portsmouth, blackburn, clubs like these cant sustain more than the odd good run,i bet the average age of our squad (boat and mendi excepted) is 23-24. i dream of a decent goalie and striker

  4. Thanks for that B Ord-Peruser.
    I was not trying to pass it off as my own work. How could I when I was quoting what was said?
    Still its nice to know there is someone as sad as me out there, trawling through sites for Boro news or sticks to try and beat other teams with.
    A mate of mine was at the Riverside on Sunday and spotted Alves, Gibson, Southgate and another bloke (agent?).
    Prehaps a fee has been agreed between the clubs and GS and SG were trying to convince Alves to sign.
    Spurs are now looking to offload Bent, when they sign Fred.Could he be used as part off a swap deal for Downing. Robinson and Bent for Downing?

  5. Ken – I totally agree with your point regarding Stewie, he is a player in demand has 2 years plus on his contract, if he does go it is the perfect opportunity for Boro to charge silly money for him. A minimum has to be £15 m and if someone is ready to pay that we have some serious compo. for losing him.
    Personally I hope he stays, he’s a vital part of the club.
    Ian – I think your point re Alves is spot on, what on earth were the club doing showing him round while the ‘prawn sandwich brigade’ were on the loose? A complete PR disaster and one which may well compromise the whole deal. Imagine the outcry from us/MFC if Stewie was photographed at White Hart Lane, there would be hell to pay.

  6. On Downing, it seems his agent is desperate for a move to happen. Obviously he is focussing on the players needs, not thinking of the windfall he would receive if this should happen. (How I wish I was Anelka’s agent!)
    Papers this morning seem full of ‘Fred to Spurs’ stories yet on Talk Sport last night Harry Redknapp said he was not pursuing Fred because the player was on his way to Middlesbrough.
    Only time will tell but in the meantime its bl**dy frustrating isn’t it?!

  7. ‘Were such a situation to arise it would be best to clarify the legal position first before getting the paper – or anyone else – wrapped up in red tape and recriminations.’
    As the photo was published on the Gazette site is it not a bit late to be worrying about the above? It is however nice to see Boro being linked to the names that are being mentioned.
    If any of these players are signed then maybe the ‘lack of ambition’ jibes made at the club will go away.
    However if none are signed and Downing leaves crowds of 33,000 as per saturday may be a thing of the past.

  8. Hands off Downing !
    We are not in a secure enough position to sell him even if it was for 15mil.
    2 weeks to go in the window and I am getting jumpy.
    Paul Robinson is pony and trap as they say in Laaandaaan and I dont want to see him in our lovely Boro strip.

  9. Just been reading more stuff about Alves.
    The article states that Alves wants to come to Boro but AZ are claiming to have the first option on the player.The Dutch courts may have to decide if any pre contract between Alves and AZ is binding.
    Surely AZ must realise that even if they win the race to sign Alves he doesn’t want to be there. What is the point in signing a player who wants to be elsewhere?
    Also as mentioned by some else earlier on the blog, are pre contracts in November allowed when the player is under contract to another club?
    It is getting messy and needs sorting ASAP.
    The article says that Boro’s targets (in order) are Alves, Fred and Wagner Love. So a bit of Samba magic may well be returning to the Riverside

  10. What? Matty Taylor and the 2 strikers are all possibles. Perm any 2 from 3 and I will have a grin like a Cheshire Cat. Always rated that Keith Lamb me…

  11. the alves deal looks done and we are in the running for this kid from scotland and also taylor linked again with the boro.
    If we get fred will wilma be waging it around the cleveland centre?
    Alves looks done from the pictures as you hardly see a player at a ground who then dosnt go on to sign for a club and with redknapp saying fred is coming to boro thats 2 quality strikers coming. what will happen to mido in all this?
    surely dong gook will go that gives us tuncay, hutchinson and mido plus the new guys that could be 6 strikers by the end of the month.
    it will be amazing if we can get these strikers because they wil certainly get the imagination running wild.
    Downing is going to go im certain of that after what we have been hearing so its going to refresh the squad and bring in better than what we have got.
    the early season gloom is beginning to lift and i ope we can push on and put a good run together. another high tempo performance at rovers on saturday and its 3 points im sure.
    come on BORO!!!!!!!!!

  12. View from the Left Field:
    Are Boro becoming obsessed with the left? The Gazette says we’re in for both a Motherwell left winger McCormack and Matt Taylor at Pompey.
    Even if Downing goes then that leaves us with Jinky, Arca, Pogi, A Taylor, Grounds, Porrit plus M Taylor and McCormack.
    The team will soon be running out to the sound of Beyonce – “To the left, to the left. Everthing we own is out on the left”
    BTW: If Downing is to go, then maybe we should just swap him for Bent.

  13. Good to see the targets and I guess the information is from the club and is for public consumption.
    The club are clearly trying hard to bring people in though the transparency of what we are doing is unlike the clubs normal no news until it happens stance.
    Whilst we are getting excited about signings lets remember we are only one point above the drop zone and need points sooner rather than later. If the new boy(s) come they wont be up and running for some time, I believe both Alves and Fred are not match fit and we dont want anyone to pick up niggles as did Mido and Young.
    So it is a trip to Rovers to deal with first and as david Morrison said above a high tempo performance is needed.

  14. Please dont sell stuart, we need him to not only provide goals but to also carry on scoring. He is one of our best players and with the other teams looking at strengthening their squads selling downing will only make things worse surely.
    On a plus note, great news from the Gazette on Alves and Fred, please please please Boro sign one of these both would be terrific, but to get them both would propel us up the league, just dont sell Downing!!

  15. Fast tempo is much needed on saturday. ive watched blackburn alot this season and if we let them have the ball they will hurt us, ala the defeat at home when they scored 2 late goals as we sat back and conceeded posession.
    We need to keep the ball like we did on saturday against Liverpool and not give tugay, dunn and bentley in particular time to look up and hit a pass.
    Its a massive game for us on saturday as we could be in the bottom 3 come 5pm and for attracting players like we are going for dosnt do the image good.
    We have got a good run of home games coming up so picking points up away from home is going to be vital to secure premiership sooner rather than later.

  16. I’m delighted to see Boro put out some positive and aggressive buying intent messages. Even if they don’t come off because of complications, it’s at the very least, reassuring for we fans to hear that the club’s ambition would appear to be alive and well.
    It’s also reassuringly sensible for them to to be pursuing a number of options and with the announcement of interest in Taylor and McCormack (an exciting prospect if given a few weeks/months to bring himself up to premiership speed) it’s clear what bases Boro management are covering.
    It makes good footballing sense to me although from a business perspective nobody outside of the club can take a wholly knowledgable commercial view, not having access to the cash position or the banks’ view of Steve Gibson’s prospects.
    Given the competition for signatures and the shortage of real class in the market, Boro’s strategy of covering positions would appear to be a smart move. Particularly when situations like the Alves complication emerge when going through due process.
    On that particular issue, it’ll be interesting on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning to hear how the Dutch Heerenveen(t)!
    I hope it goes in Boro’s favour!
    Someone asked in an earlier blog posting if Boro were looking to bring in both Fred AND Alves. Eric Paylor’s column today suggests that may be the case.
    I suspect that Boro may well try to do so if Stewart Downing’s agent’s wages demands can’t be met for as many years ahead as he may want. Then, if Downing goes for a good number of millions, it may be decided to fund both. Unless of course the ambitious intent in the Riverside corridors of power is running higher than some feared and we end up with all three on the books!?
    And with McCormack available for a relatively small fee, perhaps (more than) covered by the Andrew Davies transfer to Southampton, the strength of the squad, at least on paper, will have been transformed in the space of a fortnight!
    Hells’ teeth, if THAT happened, it’ll have been one hell of a January for Southgate, Lamb and Gibson.
    It ought to make the second half of the season a bit brighter on Teesside!

  17. Interesting stuff reading these blogs while you’re waiting for something to happen on the transfer front. Having read what’s been said here’s my tuppence worth (that’s just less than 1p for you young’uns):
    33,000 crowd = big away contingent + £9 under 11’s + accompanying adults + attraction of Liverpool + a few returnees.
    Downing – he’s a local lad made good (one of a few recently) and I for one would like to see him stay. To me he has continued to improve during the course of this season. What’s the point in getting a good striker or two if you can’t put the ball where it’s wanted?
    Johnson hasn’t made many telling passes into the box and Alliadiere has pace and some skill but doesn’t know how to shoot or pass the ball.
    According to GS nobody’s made an enquiry or an offer for Downing so far in this transfer window. I don’t take GS to be a liar. Maybe they’re just waiting for Stewie’s agent to stir things up a bit more. Another thing about Downing is his defensive support. Don’t think you’d get the same from Johnson or Alliadiere. Tuncay is another option of course.
    Money for new signings – I didn’t think we spent a great amount in the summer, considering the cashpot that was supposed to have been available to all Premier League clubs, and we sold Yakubu at the 11th hour for a tidy sum.
    So do we need to sell Downing to finance new signings? Gibson will only spend what he thinks he needs to (can’t blame him for that) and that’s all he did in the summer.
    Losing Yakubu came late in the game and didn’t leave much time to find a replacement at the right price (though I think Alaves was reputed to be available for about £7m in the summer).
    Strikers – that’s all we need. We’ve played some good football this season and lost because we couldn’t finish the job.
    Wheater – what a find, and I thought Bates was good!
    Jonathan Grounds – a great debut, didn’t look out of place at all.
    Hutchinson – has some way to go. At present he makes DGL look reasonable.
    In fairness to DGL he seemed to play better than previously while in partnership with Tuncay in his last couple of matches. Might come good just before we get rid of him
    Boro Academy – fantastic. Look what we’ve had from it in the last 3 – 4 years. Let’s hope it continues. We just need a couple of world class strikers to pop up in the next year or two.
    Newcastle – get McLaren…..perfect!

  18. Not that anyone will read this post at the bottom of the blog but I must pull AV up on a factual error.
    He says “Real big clubs may dismiss the League Cup.” Well, not really AV. the last 3 Winners have been Chelsea, Man Utd,and Chelsea. Arsenal and Liverpool were the Losers in two of those finals – so there you have it – all of the “Big Four.”
    So, the last 6 Finalists have been “Big Four” clubs with only Wigan the odd man out. Hardly “dismissing” the competition is it? I could go on……
    **AV writes: Yes, but it a consolation prize for if they miss out on the competitions that count. Ask a Man United fan if they think it is important.

  19. “Ask a Man United fan if they think it is important.”
    (out of the woodwork he crawls)………
    Owdooo folks. ‘Smee again!

  20. Hello Boys.
    Well i see that Steve Mclaren did not get the Toon job, as you will know by now, even in smoggieland, that King Kev is now in the Toon hot seat.
    Ginger whinger was never a serious option. One match at SJP when Mclaren was in charge. The sky people, took the TV moniter away on the orders of the 4th official, because ginger whinger contested every decision that went against the smogies. Good for him i thought and why not. At least he cared for his team, but oh! isn’t he so boring.
    Any way, i’ve got to go now. Will blog with you later.
    Cheers lads & lasses – all the best.
    **AV writes: Maybe Mac is playing the long game. Maybe he hopes to bring his particular brand of caution to Toon m next Septemebter to rebuild after the backlash against King Kev’s Kavalier Kamakaze Kraziness .

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