Alves: We All Know He’ll Come Good

SNAP judgements: a Teesside speciality? Exactly how long do players get to either impress the Riverside crowd – and the all important opinion formers of the Bernie Slaven fan club and the al-Jazeera bar stool brigade – as worthy of their shirt or be written off as a complete waste of space? Despite the evidence that time and time again such hasty assessments are wrong – at least three times this season – the current standard seems to be about three games.


That is what Afonso Alves has had: 268 minutes, a shade under three games. And that has been broken down into a mosaic of brief cameos, usually coming off the bench when the template of the game has been imposed and Boro have already begun the long slow ‘sub-conscious’ retreat to the edge of their own box.
As I pointed out in my Evening Gazette column this week, Alves is a quality player but has seen little football action for several months and needs time to get up to full speed and to bed in, and with the battle for survival making experimentation unlikely we must now assume we will not see his best until next year after a full pre-season and time to adjust.
So far his Boro career can be broken down thus:
Boro 1 Fulham 0 (Feb 9) – 35 minutes – On for Lee Dong Gook on 57 minutes. Boro are already sitting back on the lead. Late on broke onto a Rochemback ball but was flagged offside.
Sheff Utd 0 Boro 0 (Feb 17) – 18 minutes – On for Mido on 75 in a hectic 100mph, physical affair in which the ball rarely touched the pitch.
Liverpool 3 Boro 2 (Feb 23) – 22 minutes – on for Tuncay on 69. Liverpool are well on top and Boro are penned back and with ten men at the death he spends most of his time defending.
Boro 1 Sheffield Utd 0 (Feb 27) – 73 minutes – Makes his first start and in an impressive opening half is Boro’s most effective player. Some good touches and a decent free-kick. Picks up one Gazette star before being replaced by Tuncay.
Boro 0 Reading 1 (Mar 1) – 68 minutes – Makes his first league start but is starved of service on a bad day at the office.
Boro 0 Cardiff 2 (Mar 9) – 45 minutes – Boro’s brightest hope in a flat FA Cup match and had the best of the chances and a possible penalty shout before being replaced at the break.
Boro 1 Derby 0 (Mar 22) – 7 minutes – Came on with Boro pegged back and threatened as he chased a ball forward only to lose control and his feet just as he got to the danger zone.
Total: 268 minutes. (132 league) (136 FA Cup)
Just before he signed he sat in the directors box and watched Boro playing Wigan. He must have salivated at the prospect of playing for this team that created a dozen excellent chances in a blistering first half and dreamed at the joy of being the final piece of that particular jigsaw.
But since then Boro have gone off the boil and with the icy fear of relegation strangling any attacking instincts, the flurry of chances that Alves was brought in to convert have dried up, and with it the compelling urgency of getting him on the pitch and playing has eased too in favour of getting a more solid shape in place and scrapping for survival.
Hence, apart from the Sheffield United FA Cup fifth round replay when he started and Boro set the pace, the £12.7m hitman has spent most of his time ploughing a frustrated furrow along the halfway line or charging hopelessly after long punts forward. His failure to get regular, full games has left him short of match fitness and still struggling to acclimatise to the differences in tempo, style and physicality that all Premiership new boys find a culture shock.
Despite that, in his limited time on the pitch he has looked Boro’s brightest prospect. Against Sheffield United he showed some excellent touches, strength in a very physical game, a deceptive turn of pace, excellent movement and an eye for goal as well as a stinging free-kick that actually hit the target rather than fans on the second tier, like the other Brazilian who fancies himself as a dead-ball specialist is wont to do.
So barely three frustrating games in a stop-start spell of matches in which the team are playing scared football and a shape that is not conducive to the style of football and the knives are out in the underpass. Seven minutes against Derby was “the final straw” for some. “He’ll never be a striker so long as he’s got a hole in his arse,” said one Chickenrunning Simon Cowell.
How short the myopic mob’s collective memory. We have seen this habitual inaccurate knee-jerk asassination prove premature three times this season alone, as players crawl off the scrapheap whence they have been consigned to become essential members of the team and double-think kicks as former critics insist “I always knew he would come good.”
The first to be written off was Jeremie Aliadiere: the jet-heeled French frontman was damaged goods before he arrived having never scored a Premiership goal and having failed to shine in three loan spells. He compounded that by not scoring at Boro for five games. That was plenty for some people to decide that he was a waste of space. Now of course the consensus is that his pace and movement is the crucial element in Boro’s ability to break at pace and he has been the architect of some important goals and points. And of course, we all always knew that he would come good.
Next to be consigned to the dustbin of history was Tuncay. He suffered in that he was unveiled in the wake of Steve Gibson’s declaration of imminent “spectacular” signings so was being judged harshly against inflated expactations. We had all seen his YouTube hat-trick against Manchester United and knew his pedigree so when he didn’t score on his debut he was already on the slippery slope to becoming a scapegoat. Like Alves he flitted in and out, on and off the bench, and struggled with the physicality before a a sizzling show at West Ham six games in in which he was brilliant but missed a string of sitters and was immediately convicted of also failing to take his last chance. Now of course he is widely regarded as a mercurial presence that can make things happen and we all always knew he would come good.
Then it was Luke Young. Having not had a full pre-season due to a niggle he was off the pace and blowing a bit in his first few games and the hasty were already insisting he was a waste of money, they could see why Charlton had been relegated, he was worst than Andrew Davies and was only in the team until Tony McMahon was back to full fitness. But he has been an ever-present in the league since making his debut and has gone from strenghth to strength. Now the received opinion is that he is Boro’s Mr Reliable and he should be in the England squad. And of course, we all knew he would come good.

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47 thoughts on “Alves: We All Know He’ll Come Good

  1. I can’t disagree with too much of what you’ve wrote there AV – but until Alves proves it on the pitch I would be more cautious and replace the word “know” in your title with the word “hope”.
    **AV writes: Yeah maybe, but part of the point of the piece is the retrospective certainty that time has brought with other players written off early.

  2. Surely Alves will prove good enough?
    I just hope Boro get a win from the next three games, after which GS can begin to prepare for next season by going with what he hopes will become his best starting 11, and letting them gel into a unit.
    From current personnel, I’d like to see the following the following lineups start our remaining matches..
    Jones
    Young Wheater Pogatetz Taylor
    Sanli Shawky Arca Downing
    Aliadiere Alves
    with outfield subs:
    Huth Cattermole Johnson Mido
    The playing style is important too.
    Against some teams maybe we could go 3 5 2..
    Jones
    Huth Wheater Pogatetz
    Downing Shawky Sanli Arca Johnson
    Aliadiere Alves
    That would give us a solid central midfield to protect a firm back three, with two speedy wingbacks supported by the pacy Aliadiere, the elusive Sanli and the hopefully deadly Alves. I’d love to see that lineup take on the mackems.

  3. AV :
    In some ways you are right,we are a fickle bunch but I think our record of buying players who are going to make the differance between fighting relagation,and doing a Portsmouth or Blackburn is apalling and £13m for a 28 year old who has never been anywhere screams of panic.
    What if we do actually go down this season? Or next? What kind of return will we get for some of these signings?
    Other clubs seem to be able to get players for half the price who fit in well. It will be fantastic if Alves is the real thing but maybe it is the way WE PLAY. That is the bottom line. Oher teams seem to have 4-5 players in the box when they break. how many do we normally have?
    Anyway, nuff said. Jonno was tops last night though.

  4. Couldn’t agree more with your analysis of the doom-sayers AV.
    The problem is they have a ready-made comparator in Ravanelli. Hat-trick against Liverpool in the opening game and the famous shirt-over-the-head celebration which was copied by schoolboys of every age the length and breadth of the country.
    It doesn’t matter that he was a petulant, selfish so-and-so to whom the phrase “team-ethic” was a complete mystery.
    Conversely, those same doom-sayers who use him for comparison are the same ones who “knew all along that he would jump ship at the first sign of a struggle”.

  5. Has he been on the pitch at the same time as Aliadiere yet? I would have thought that would be the combination most likely to see him show us what he can do.
    Too often he has been on the pitch when his teammates have been playing Wimbledon-style punts forward looking for Mido even when Mido is not on the field.
    Fitness-wise – well the club have had several opportunities to give him time on the pitch with the reserves but have so far let those opportunities go by.

  6. Good comments AV. You can`t blame us all for being sceptical though, can you? I just worry that we will ever see the best of him. Sounds like we need to build the team around him. If he has to fight for scraps every week, we will never get our money’s worth.
    On another subject, is it me or has anyone else noticed how mouthy George Boeteng has suddenly become? He is in the press more often than when he was captain. Interestingly it is mostly very supportive stuff.
    For a supposedly “want away” player he is showing remarkable professionalism and support for the current regime. As I said in a previous posting, I wish it was infectious.

  7. Players take time to settle in and my prediction in would be late Feb before Mido was fit or anyone new would be bedded in was grossly over optimistic – my lenses are going rose pink at the thought. I thought I was being fair.
    No player can settle into a poorly performing team and be an instant hit. Nor can they come on and transform 11.59 MOTD dross into Lawro drooling spectacular.
    There needs to be a settled team and a chance for any new players to have a sustained run.
    Simba started with hitting the post and bringing out saves in keepers but his confidence gradually disappeared. Like Forlorn at ManU he became a self fulfilling prophesy.
    But now that Stewie is in good form and signed his new contract we need a new scapegoat so that Swarz doesnt run away with prizes. Alves and Midriff fit the bill.

  8. I agree with all you have posted AV and Id like to add another to the list – Gary O’Neil!
    Despite an excellent period of form over the Christmas period he has been lambasted for a dip in form (probably due to a niggling injury) and labelled a waste of money and we should have kept morrison.
    The knee jerk reaction is a common and fustrating part of the modern day game which we are all guilty of from time to time however it seems that the modern day fan is constanly searching for the next ‘boo boy’.
    Its completely farcical to judge a player that hasnt played a full 90 minute match and has only started one league game, how many sitters has Alves missed? None as far as im concerned. To mention him in the same breath as Lee is daft.
    What happened to getting behind the players? oh yeah and what about Bolo zenden? We all knew he’d come good didnt we?

  9. I agree with AV here. Alves can’t be judged yet especially with the brief cameo roles he has been given in games.
    When he has had the ball in the right areas he has been quality. In dead ball situations he looks exciting and some of his movement in open play is good.
    I especially look forward to seeing him play with Aliadiere and with Tuncay just behind… I think we all know that he will be a great signing but we need to give him time.
    Boateng himself came from the Eredivisie like Alves and he was rated as one of the fittest guys in that league yet he struggled in his first season and took time to adapt.
    Boateng could speak English as well and Alves is only learning so lets lay off him a bit. He will come good.

  10. We are all in the same boat, we want to see the guy doing well and scoring goals thats all.
    But £13million is a lot of money to pay for someone at the age of 27 who you are saying well he will come good next season. Alll well and good but we want him scoring goals now and building confidence.
    Yes the games havnt been great so why play him in them at all, risking injury and dips in confidence. When was the last time a 1st team player played for boro reserves? I think mido played once for 60 minutes or so about two months back.
    My point is why arent they in the reserves getting match fit and playing proper games rather than training? Managers allways say he needs games under his belt. Well if im not mistaken a reserve game is a game. Yes the level isnt great but get him in there anyway and get him scoring
    Strikers thrive on scoring and he looks like hes a rabbitt in the headlights so why not take a step back? We have two games against the top two coming up where you would think hes not gunna have a chance so why play him when we know hes not ready?
    The more he lpays at 65% fitness the worse he is going to look. Get him in the reserves get him scoring
    COME ON BORO!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. I have have been an occasional lurker on the NUFC message board and I can tell you that snap judgment might be a NE phenomenon but it’s not exlusive to Boro.
    Mark Viduka, for example, was despised as an overweight, mercenary, idle waste of bench space until a week ago. And now, of course, everyone knew he was only suffering a temporary loss of form. Much the same can be said of their whole squad, not just 3 or 4 individuals. So no, it’s not just Boro.
    **AV writes: Isn’t everyone who signs for Newcastle instantly judged to be ‘brilliant’ before being gradually exposed as useless. It is like Boro in reverse.

  12. Those who slag off every new player as useless feel vindicated when they are right such as DGL and have selective memory loss about the times when they are wrong. Clearly we will not legitimatley be able to judge Alves until next season.
    Looking at the wider picture, I can see progress, Boro are no longer conceding goals, which is the first requirement of a good side.
    We have some good midfield players, although it is now clear that we need at least one new central midfield player, particularly if Rocky leaves in the summer.
    I’m not sure if we have a need for one more striker or not, assuming Mido stays, then with Alves, Aliadiere and Tuncay I can’t see room for another.
    This season we are going to finish somewhere around 12-14th, our ‘usual’ spot.
    Next season I will be looking for a top ten finish and a team which plays good quality commanding football at home.

  13. Holgate Ender wrote:
    ” To be fair, we kneejerkers were bang on when we had Lee Dong Goalless down as useless on day one.”
    Gotta give it to you there. 10/10 for that one.

  14. When you cost £13m then we have every right to expect you to fit right in immediately. You don’t pay that for ‘potential’. You pay that for instant goals
    I can’t believe for a second that Gibbo thought that six weeeks later we would be saying he only had seven minutes because he is not fit enough.
    That’s a disgrace to be fair and someone needs their bum kicking, either the scouts/manager for spending the entire budget on someone who doesn’t look like he will play this season or the coaches who can’t get him fir enough to play.

  15. It is all hypothetical I know but one thing that concerns me is the wasted opportunity of the January transfer window and the knock on effect it may have had on our season.
    In January we were flying. A decent long unbeaten run, playing decent football and creating a lot of chances and a (rare) general air of optimism. It was a great time to invest and strengthen.
    But we wasted January in a drawn out spell of shuttle diplomacy and public brinkmanship with the moves for Fred and Alves, and with the latter seemed to go right to the wire with threats of injunctions, FIFA and civil action over the AZ Alkmaar contract.
    That would have been worth it had Alves come in, scored on his debut and then banged in a few more that turned a few draws into wins to push us safely into mid-table and maybe scored against Sheffield United and Cardiff to propel us to Wembley.
    Instead we are still treading water just above relegation and have missed out on a once a century chance in the FA Cup with no big boys left because we can’t score goals despite spending £13m on firepower in January.
    Our record signing not fit and fully firing after six weeks. And with first Ali then Mido out banned we have been one injury away from playing Lee Dong Gook again! How does that happen? Gibbo must be furious.
    We would have been better off spending £2m-3m on Eastwood, Cureton, Hulse or Dickov. They could have gone straight in. They might not have been “quality” but they may have have scored a few, roughed defences up, coped with Cardiff, given us options and come cheap.
    That would have left us free to go back in the summer for Alves (and we would have saved a fortune in his wages) and then he could have the full pre-season and got used to the set-up and the style and the culture in good time.
    I’ve got nothing against Alves and I’m sure he will be fantastic in August – but we needed a player in January.

  16. I beleive Alves will come good, especially if we can fit him into the same team as Tuncay and Alliadiare.
    GS needs to be brave and take the defensive shackles off the team,
    Prehaps Boro should spend some money on a decent fitness coach, why has it taken so long for Mido and Alves to get (or prehaps not get) fit?
    C’Mon Boro!

  17. Agree with Red Rebel. If he wasnt ready to go straight in then the money could have been better spent.
    I’d have gone for Ashton or someone that was Prem proven.

  18. Why spend millions in january when a player won’t be fit or ready until August? It was the same with DGL.
    The point of a January signing is that he can slot in straight away.
    I think our hands were forced because AZ alkmaar had agreed a fee. No way would we have valued him anywhere near £13m last summer. His real market value is about £7m.
    Only problem now is we need a target man to handle the physical side of the game so that alves can settle and play to his strengths.
    There is no guarantee he will come good in the premier league. Just look at kezman for example.
    It is a massive risk signing a foreign striker on a big fee who has no proven experience in a top league. I think his dutch club must be laughing at getting £13m for him.
    I think Gibson beleived signing a brazilian would lift the fans and club like back with Juninho but the game and boro have moved on now and doesnt have the same effect.

  19. Also like to add while we are paying £13m for someone who is unproven. Pompey went out and signed Defoe on loan and probably for a fee no more than £8m.
    Now who said English players are over priced? I think we have been stitched up.

  20. Red Rebel & Ste Mac:
    The competition for available, good, proven strikers is intense as there aren’t great numbers of them about. That “market” sector is hotly contested and is probably one most greatly responsible for the inflationary effects on transfer fees.
    Last Summer, it was reported Boro were chasing Alves for a reported £6M. Then Manchester City, in August were credited with making a £12-£13M bid for the same player. Alves continued to score goals in Holland from August until January and did his worth to Heerenveen no harm at all.
    To try to secure a quality striker who would give us service for several years I believe Boro HAD to go after either Alves or Fred in January.
    Fred played silly with Lyon and the transfer market and when bigger clubs didn’t pick up on his scent, he went crawling back to them. I always viewed Boro’s interest in Fred as a counterpoint, a possible back-up for the Alves intent.
    If Boro had left it until this coming Summer before making a move for Alves and he had continued to score and perform in his settled environment at Heerenveen, his transfer value wouldn’t have been the £12-point-whatever millions we paid for him – it would likely have been substantially more and with a greater risk of us not getting him due to other club’s interest.
    I don’t think that bringing in interim makeweights (e.g. Jason Euell) would have done anything for the long term and I’m not convinced that it would have guaranteed any greater striking performance with the remainder of the team seemingly going off the boil at the same time.
    The recent-times exception to makeweight provision was defensive, in Abel Xavier, who had proved himself over time at the highest club level and did a sterling job for Boro before and after the drugs ban fiasco. I still believe that he was an inspired acquisition, that he was and remains a genuine and true professional. Boro wouldn’t have backed him otherwise throughout his enforced ban, which I’m still strongly inclined to believe had an innocent basis.

  21. I think people are missing a really big point re Alves.
    If we had not signed him in January, he would not have been available in the summer, he would have joined AZ as planned.
    Therefore we have bought him for next season and beyond, not for his immediate impact. Anything he did this season would have always been a bonus.
    Without him we should still have beaten Cardiff, signing Cureton, Hulse or any of those other journeymen would have made no difference.
    Patience lads, patience.

  22. Having invested heavily on the likes of Alves, Southgate can only keep these players happy (along with the fans!) if we show greater progress next season.
    Therefore, GS should now know what kind of shape he wants Boro to play in since he has now brought in quite a few players, as well as offering new contracts to some existing members of squad.
    These are: Alves, Aliadiere, Tuncay, Mido, O’Neil, Young, Downing, Arca, Wheater.
    Add to those the likes of Huth, Pogi, Taylor and with home grown cover in the shape of Johnson, Catt, Bates, Grounds, Hines and McMahon.
    Those likely to move on at the end of the season are Boateng, Rocky, Schwarzer and Riggot (oh and not forgetting Simba).
    I also expect 2 or 3 quality additions for next season – midfield and keeper.
    So given that Southgate will have his own squad, the minimum requirement will be a top 8 finish playing a much more entertaining style of football – otherwise the game will be up for his management regime as it’s just not credible that they could be trusted to build a new team.

  23. Pat Mc, Dubai wrote:
    “…[other strikers] didn’t have to contend with during their settling in period – the punt upfield to a lonely striker surrounded by four/five “uncompromisingâ€? defenders. It must be demoralising.
    “How can any striker settle into a rhythm, a confidence, an understanding having to deal with that?”
    Wayne Rooney never could and, on last night’s evidence, he still can’t.
    With regard to knee-jerk reactions, I have had one with regard to Capello. Common sense tells me it’s too early to judge but I have a bad feeling about him.
    He seems to have little understanding of the English game and the only good thing to come out of last night was that he recognised the lone-striker problem and remedied it in the second half. His predecessors might have left Rooney on until his frustration got the better of him and he won himself a red card.
    I suppose it’s progress, of a sort.

  24. Is this meant to be a joke??
    Tuncay & Aliadiere have both underperformed massivley this season. They simply haven`t done it.
    Using them as an example of players who`ve “Come Good” is ridiculous

  25. Bernie was right,
    I think Tuncay and Aliadiere have come good, Ali’s running is terrific, tuncay proves a real problem for other teams and Ali’s and Tuncays goals have come when we most needed them, yeah they aint scored as many as hoped, but they get better every game,
    Up the Boro, and give afonso more time!

  26. I have posted previously that I believe Alves (will come good ) can only be judged when played in a team that is providing attacking chances.
    To develop the same argument, I would say it is time Gareth stopped talking “attack” and started practising it .
    I believe we are not far short of the personel needed to enact this (Man Utd) attacking style , indeed we don’t seem to have the squad to play the sit-in defence (Chelsea) game.
    Aliadiere, Alves and Downing as a strike-force ,with Tuncay linking defence to attack should give us at least four in the vital area as distinct from the one (lone )or two (unsupported) we see in most matches.
    And yes, I do want to see Downing up there
    ;1/ He has shown he can score goals- both feet , and would score more from a more forward position,
    2/ How is he a midfielder ? Is he a good tackler?, Does he have immense speed or stamina ? Can he see and deliver a killer through ball ?
    3/ It annoys me when “coaches” talk of his vast improvement at “getting back”. If he improves 100% in this , he will not be in the best 80 defenders in the country ,but used properly he is possibly the best left-side attacker in the premiership.
    So that line-up only leaves six players to defend with! Why do we need six? How many teams play with six (or even four )attacking players?
    Don’t fall for the “we must counter their tactics” mantra, let the opposition worry about us. And attack is the best form of defence – three men up will limit the opposition commitment to going forward (last 20 minutes against Derby) or filling our box at corners etc.
    Okay , so we may lose some of the games we have drawn , but we would also have won some of them , if we lost five of our drawn games and won five we would still be 5 points better off and have far happier supporters .
    So Gareth , get some positive coaches or grow some balls.

  27. Si
    Ricard was building a usefel partnership with Beck and when we played Spurs in the game you mentioned we tore them apart with pace and movement.
    Robbo then brought in Brian Deane, Beck fell out of favour and Ricard went backwards after that and never looked the same. Could be coincidence

  28. Personally, whilst I hoped for instant genius, based on what I’ve seen I think that Alves will be a success here.
    He has good balance, skill, pace, is selfish and clearly knows how to score goals. We all get disappointed if they fail to hit the ground running and the price tag on Alves places a greater emphasis on that.
    I remember a little bloke who ate beans come here about 10 years ago and for the first season, was uninspiring. I forget his name but he didn’t do too bad the following year……..

  29. It sounds like everyone did well in their international games. i was really pleased Downing came on for England and he got 45mins!
    Alves – he’s only just come to Boro and he needs time. Tuncay and Aliadiere have improved a lot lately and they will probably get even better next season. Alves will be good eventually but the fans have to be patient.
    I’m not expecting much against Chelsea (points) but we always play well against the bigger teams. lets hope it continues on Sunday!

  30. Si – Is Ricard in fact Boro’s record goal scorer in the prem? I’m sure he’s ahead of Rav.
    Ian – you gave me indegestion when you mentioned Brian Deane, if ever there was a man who personified Robbo loosing the plot it was Deano.
    I’m not sure what happened to Robbo that season but he bought so many duff players I lost count and the will to live!
    The Chelsea stats look good for Sunday, they haven’t lost at home for four years, we haven’t even scored there for god knows how long. Looks like a banker away win to me!

  31. The problem in the team is the lack of a quality ball player. Rochemback and Arca are bothe OK but I think Arca will be more used as a defensive midfielder and Rocky will be on his way come the summer.
    We need a player that can create and can make killer passes that play onto Alves strengths. If you watch him he plays off the last defender and creates space to run in behind. We dont have any one that can get away from a midfielder and play him in.
    We havnt either in the games he has played looked to play in the attacking style we are trying to create. Hopefully in the coming games the team will become safe and the shackles will come off and we will go all out.
    Portsmouth at home and Man City at home will be ideal to go for it and try the three up front.
    COME N BORO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  32. Arca is not a defensive midfielder (neither is Rocky – which is why some of our problems in midfield have occurred) – we need an anchor man such as Boateng or Catts or someone else, so Arca or Rocky can have the freedom to play their natural game and supply the killer balls which they have both proved capable of this season.
    I wouldn’t complain if we brought in a totally new midfield pairing in the summer, nor would I be unhappy to see Cattermole and Arca or Cattermole and Rocky lining up in the first game of next season.

  33. All this talk of strikers misses the point: We need better midfielders.
    All too often, our forwards are left alone up front. Downing is our one midfielder who gets forward and scores. We need at least one central midfielder and maybe even two. If we fix the midfield, the goals will come.

  34. Jaguar Boy
    I dont think killer pass is what teams need. The good teams play simple passes at tempo into space that they expect people to be making a run in to.
    Looking back at the England performance we played with very little tempo. The extra width from Bentley and Downing was wasted by the quality of balls into the danger area but it didnt matter because there were no players breaking into the box. Even when Downing pulled one back onto the 18 yard line there were only blue shirts.
    We have similar problems at Boro but where you are totally correct is getting the quality of player in.

  35. Neil M wrote…
    “When you cost £13m then we have every right to expect you to fit right in immediately. You don’t pay that for ‘potential’. You pay that for instant goals”
    hmm not too sure as others have mentioned there are many examples of players having a bad 1st season and then coming good most notably Drogba and Cristiano but also lower key players such as Arteta.
    The problem we have is that we dont have the finances to buy potential the way bigger clubs do look to Manure e.g. Nani, Anderson, or Liverpool – Babel

  36. Not a very good start for Alves I agree, maybe he has been reading all the rubbish written on FMTTM by the idiotic majority that infest the place and taken it to heart.

  37. Boro cannot afford £12.5m just to say ‘we have ambition’! Alves was bought to convert all these chances that were being created and missed (Blackburn etc) so that relegation could be avoided, and that’s the only reason.
    The money would have been better spent on a couple of midfielders who could score goals, and an ‘ordinary’ striker who might have scored 4 or 5 goals as well.
    The current comments are just fudge to try and cover up another monumental error of judgement, as much in the boardroom as in the manager’s office, because there are no guarantees the Boro will stay up.
    Boro cannot afford to gamble that sort of money, and they were suckered into it by certain players who have left the club, and all of whom have justified their decisions to do so. Harsh but true.
    But I think Alves could do it, if he were given the time on the field with some players who could perform.
    The Reading result and the Alliadiere injustice put the wind up the management, and their reasoning suffered. But it doesn’t alter the fact that their transfer strategy was flawed; we all pray they will get away with it.

  38. After a number of liquid refreshments and a great deal of thought, or should I say laments, if SG gives GS a £20m war chest in the summer, I say dont screw around – £18m for David Bentley and that will do. That one quality player who will make the difference

  39. On another topic I spotted this in BBC’s gossip column
    ‘Tottenham could allow Paul Robinson, Aaron Lennon, Jermaine Jenas, Tom Huddlestone and Darren Bent to leave as boss Juande Ramos looks to whittle down his English contingent. (Daily Express)’
    Is this any good for the future of British football? (there are few chances for the other home nations as well)
    There is a parallel in cricket. Englands best cricketers are centrally contracted and play little one day cricket, their places in county sides are taken by interantional players from all over the world gaining time playing one day cricket. We then bemoan the fact our team doesnt compete.
    Rant over.

  40. I think Lennon and Robinson are certainties for boro next season possibly along with Huddlestone as well. My only problem with him is his weight and can he keep fit enough for a run of games.
    I’d also be tempted by Kevin Nolan as well. He’s gone a bit stale this year with Bolton and the chance to be seen in a better light at Boro might tempt him.
    Its all speculation though and we dont have a clue who Boro are watching and what is planned.
    COME ON BORO!!!!!!!!!

  41. Ian, agree 100%.
    This outlines what is wrong with English/British sport in general.
    It also proves that some foreign managers/coaches in the EPL appear not have faith in our home grown players to deliver on the park.
    The clubs who have foreign coaches in charge are also willing to erode the very basis of our game to gain success whatever the cost to the national team and to the development of some of most promising young talent.
    I look forward to the day when (if) FIFA and the FA ever find a way to limit the numbers of foreign players (EU or not) at each club in much the same as the Italian FA did back in the mid 90’s when it was recognised how the unfettered import of non Italian players was damaging their national game.

  42. Neil
    Not all national teams are disadvantaged by the foreign coaches in the English game. France dont suffer by Wenger being at Arsenal or Spain by Benitses being at Liverpool.

  43. Ian/Neil
    Without wishing to sound patronizing, it seems to me that this is what you get when you globalize anything!
    Dilution of nationality (tribalism).
    In the interests of purely commercial gain for relatively few people (i.e. a very, very small priveleged minority of the population) a future based on common national interest, existing cultures, heritage and social historical values is sacrificed.
    It is replaced by an ultimately unsustainable system whose values, at least to me, are superficial and depend entirely on consumerism, which is itself, almost by definition, unsustainable over time.
    Football and sport in general is only one facet of our current way of life that is a casualty to this trend.
    I, for one, regret it. But it seems to be an inevitable consequence of the prime focus for some people’s attention being on the accumulation of wealth, status, and power – and, importantly, on the majority of the remainder not seeing the consequences, or being subservient, selfish, unprincipled or powerless enough to have to accept what’s happening.
    Taking the discussion even deeper would trace the origins of reason back through Darwinism and then into the realms of genetics as exposed and discussed (strongly argued and, to my mind, brilliantly reasoned) by Dawkins.
    The consequences for society may be modeled in game theory. Dawkins deals with this to some extent in “The Selfish Geneâ€?. No doubt, commercial interests and some anthropologists, will offer alternative perspectives which may seek to claim some moral high ground on the basis of offering higher standards of living to a greater number of people. I’m yet to be convinced of such argument however, while much of Africa is starving and wealth/ power is polarized and concentrated in the hands of the wrong people. This is what happens when self-interest is allowed to dominate over the common good.
    Coming back to football however, it is apparent to me, as I have hinted in previous postings to these blogs, that the existence of the Premier League as currently constituted, is detrimental to the national game. I’m not alone in this view. You guys are proof of that!
    Those who value the game as historically played in this country and who do not wish to see further globalization movement should take every opportunity to oppose measures proposed by commercial interests and government which do so. I see the opposition to Gam£39 as an example of that.
    Gents, I have no solution. I only seek to support your implied concern for the future of our game and to open the debate up a bit to reflect on wider societal and value drifts.
    Anthony Vickers’s blogs probably aren’t the most suitable place to hold such discussion, but I was on a roll! Sorry, I’m only human and get carried away with myself! (Yes, I know – keep it up and it’ll become more than metaphorical!)
    **AV writes: I don’t mind hosting such debates. There are precious few other platforms.

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