Young Exit Raises Stakes For Southgate

LETTING Luke Young go is a disaster. Cashing in on fringe players is one thing but selling your best performers – and let’s be emphatic about this, Luke Young was the best perfromer last season – is a high-risk strategy that sends out chilling messages to supporters, to the rest of the dressing room and to other clubs.

To the fans it screams a lack of ambition, that we have become a selling club that sees transfer dealings as purely financial arrangement srather than long term structural investments and even hints that we are edging back towards being a selling club. To the other players, especially the more ambitious players, it suggests that any hopes of winning things may have to be played out elsewhere and that their own futures are far from secure if good offers are likely to be accepted. And to other clubs it is a green light to move in with predatory bids for the players that had previously been thought to be cast iron first team fixtures. If Luke Young is available, for whatever reason, then why not Stewy Downing?
Young is a brilliant player, a solid defender with a cool head and a potent attacking force. He has energy, good control, excellent distribution and is strong in the tackle. It is incredible he hasn’t been a regular in the England team – he is better than Wes Brown – and surely only the fact that he is not playing for a bigger side is keeping him out. Indded, that may well be a factor in his own thinking.
Coming the week before the season starts it is doubly worrying. It is a political and startegic disaster. Had it come early in pre-season it could be factored in. Now, it leaves a club who already have a questionmark over the key position of keeper – there is literally no number one – suddenly without its most stabilising, consistent, injury-free and experienced performer. Unless there is an ace up Southgate’s sleeve the unmistakeable air of pre-season optimism will be replaced with an air of endemic panic.
Southgate had already taken a massive gamble with his stance on the keeping position. In letting such an important player leave on the eve of the season has doubled the stakes.


139 thoughts on “Young Exit Raises Stakes For Southgate

  1. I think it’s realistic to assume that Gareth Southgate is not calling the shots when it comes to financial decisions. However, I’m sure he’s had a major say in whether Young left or not.
    There was probably some truth in his comments that Young looked less than highly motivated for the new season, as given his age, he must have been wondering if he would get to win something with Boro or make the England squad anytime soon.
    I wouldn’t have too many problems if the money from the £6m deal (along with other deals) is reused to strengthen the squad. I could also imagine Mido disappearing before the end of the month if say an offer of around £8m came in from the likes of Sunderland or Wigan.
    It makes sense for a club of our resources to make deals in order to bring in other players. The problem it seems is not selling but bringing in new players who are above what we have already – No to Harper and Hoyte, Yes to Bullard and Benayoun.
    It’s also quite possible that Steve Gibson is looking to cut our financial liabilities in order to keep the club out of trouble. There is usually a few years lag until the time of transfers and wages paid hit the club and it’s probably no coincidence that Boro have managed to offload quite a few high earners of late.
    In addition, we’ve still not heard about the season ticket sales and there also seemed a bit of a hiccup financing the Emnes deal.
    Though we shouldn’t think this is a Boro problem – look at West Ham, Everton, Blackburn or the disastrous Man City or even the somewhat quieter than usual Geordies. Make no mistake this is not the time for ‘businesses’ to be carrying massive multi-million pound debts and liabilities – the risk of another Leeds is probably quite realistic at the moment.
    So lets give the club the benefit of the doubt, after all they’ve invested quite heavily on some good players recently and the new crop of youngsters could keep us in the top half of the Premier League for the next 5 years.

  2. ‘I feel sorry for Gareth as it looks like he is not in charge and the boardroom is’
    comments like this are going to drive me over the edge.
    and JP – do you feel the need to bash the Boro with any flimsy stick you can get your hands on? How on earth can you criticise the lengths of certain transfer dealings when you have absolutely no idea of what has actually gone on? Or have you been party to these negotiations?
    Any excuse to have a go at the club, it seems.

  3. “He said we had made a written offer for Hoyte were did the info come from becouse Wenger states no offers received and I do not believe he is a liar…”
    Perhaps he just didn’t see it !
    **AV writes: Maybe it hasn’t arrived in the post yet.

  4. A.V.
    May I just address this post to those who are trumpeting the sale of Young as a good piece of business: “good money for a 30 year old”, “doubled our money in one season” replace with a younger player” etc.
    Who exactly then has been taken in by this shrewd piece of business of ours? A rookie in the managerial game with more money than sense or perhaps a manager desperate to bolster a poor defence or even a manager making one of those signings on a whim that seem to happen every now and again.
    Hmm, the manager in question is certainly not a rookie, has a side that has qualified for Europe and is not known for spending just for the sake of it.
    Would this manager in question then, in looking for defenders to boost, not bolster, his defence and in wanting to replace like for like, for some of his injured players, not have run the rule over Hoyte, Volz, Finnan and perhaps even Orr and decided the player he wanted, was available at an attractive price from a club that would have no quibble in selling. Hence a deal done in half a day or so.
    Sorry guys, the smart piece of business in question was done by Martin O’Neill.
    I like all on this web site, want the team to do well on the pitch, there is a possibility it could happen. The squad is youthful and could gel if some decent performaces can be delivered and some results go our way and none of the dribel that was served up last season comes to the fore again.
    I do not however delude myself that selling off good players is good business

  5. They used to say that ‘A week in politics is a long time’.
    Where has all the euphoria gone, one minute most people appear to be happy with the squad, then we sell a 29 year old full back for £6m smackers and all hell breaks loose.
    What will people be writing next week when 2/3 new signings appear?
    I’m still very positive that we’ll have a good season although I haven’t a clue about the formation, who play up front and in midfield. it seems to me that The Gate actually has a choice this season.
    We’ll just have to wait and see.

  6. I thought we were in the age of the Fax machine ….or maybe Boro do not have one! 🙂
    With regards to the squad i was happy but very concerned with the goalkeeper situation…losing Young was a big blow for me as i was already worried about leaking goals and we were already short at right back.What annoys me most is the dross flying out of MFC regarding signings and interest…there projections and time limits never seem to come true.
    With regards to a bid for Hoyte i do not believe Wenger would not know about a bid and as soon as he heard the rumours he would ask if that was the case prior to making a statement . I believe the issue is more likely to be clouded at this end.

  7. AV: Eric Paylor wrote “The Boro boss is looking at the possibility of bringing in a defensive utility player to complement his squad before the end of the month”.
    Can you clarify if he meant a defender or a defensive midfielder (i.e. is he talking about Harper or someone who can play anywhere across the back?)
    **AV writes: I think they are scouring the FM database for a defender who can cover in both full-back positions and maybe at centre-back too at a push.

  8. JP – it just strikes me that you (and it’s not just you to be fair) jump on anything and use it as a reason to have a go at the club. As I read it, you seem to be suggesting that the Boro string out transfer deals through incompetence, while other teams (such as Villa) complete their deals quickly as they are so professional. It’s surely not as black and white as that, each deal is different and I have no reason to believe that Boro are better or worse at it than anyone else.
    On the other hand, if something good happens, very little praise is offered and it should have been introduced a long time ago.
    You talk about basing your comments on what the club have said – yet you are happy to suggest that Southgate isn’t in control of transfer dealings and is some sort of figurehead with no real power- which others have now latched on to.
    I’m sorry but there is just no basis for that whatsoever.

  9. AV, what happened with the Kiwi trialist?
    **AV writes: Good question. He couldn’t play in any games as he is still registered with a club and would need international clearance so he has slipped off the radar a bit. We’ll ask…

  10. John Powls & Borophil:
    Something just occured to me as I was reading your “discussion” on the speed at which transfer deals are effected.
    Maybe I’m wrong, but it does seem to me that when Boro is the seller, deals go through more quickly than when we’re the buyer. Or am I mistaken?
    I’ve been trying to think of reasons why this may be so.
    One that jumped out at me was that because we don’t have huge amounts of money to burn, we perhaps take a longer time to negotiate a deal that’s acceptable to both Boro and to a selling club. But when we’re the seller, our selling criteria are much clearer, in that we know what we’ll accept financially and we’re already committed, for whatever reason to allowing a player to leave. Therefore, our selling decisions can happen faster and there’s no new player contract to put in place.
    Of the selling deals we’ve done, I can’t think of one that has been particularly protracted.
    In recent years we’ve had some issues with work permits for incoming foreign players, and in Alves’s case of course the AZ Alkmaar complexity muddied the waters for a while.
    It’s always likely to be a more complex administration matter bringing a new player in, than selling one on.
    We should perhaps also bear in mind what Steve Gibson has told us that because we are a small, privately-owned club, we run a small administration “department” and therefore, the availability of commercial and legal-savvy people to push the deals through may be at a premium, especially when there’s a lot of transfer action.
    As for the Luke Young deal, it was a domestic transfer without the complexities of work permits, international clearance, absence of “ownership” disputes and a clear case of an instantly acceptable purchase price. Presumably, the Aston Villa lines of credit are immediately open and verifiable and underwritten by Randy Lerner’s bank. And presumably they’ll be rated highly by Standard & Poors or Dun & Bradstreet – or whoever are the applicable credit ratings agencies are.
    It would have been the only transfer deal ongoing in Boro’s admin department and so……. swiftly done deal!
    Thats’ my take on it. At least it’s my starter for 10!

  11. Maybe the speed at which the transfer went through is because Villa were dealing with a professional competant club!!
    Or more likely a club who were willing to sell at the price offered, and a player who was more than willing to jump ship with a probable lucrative contract as a bonus.
    Our deals, Im sure take longer as we start off with the cheapest offer then work up from there, which is good in a business sense but not when you have to get players in quick

  12. I went away on holiday two weeks or so ago thinking things were looking goodish for the forthcoming season, with the exception of the lack of a new keeper.
    Now Luke Young has gone, good business if Boro are an asset management company bad business if they are a football club. Hoyte I thought is a player with a good reputation, but those who have posted on here who have seen him play are clearly unimpressed. for certain bringing him into the team/squad so late is going to cause a serious problem. Having a young/inexperienced keeper and a young/inexperienced right back can’t be a good place to be at for a team at the start of a season. Why didn’t Boro simply refuse the bid? I don’t believe we need the cash.
    However one point I would make is that I don’t believe Young didn’t know about Villas interest in advance, they would have phoned his agent and sounded him out, no question of that in my mind.
    Chris states that he doesn’t believe wenger is a liar, well there are 6000 million people in this world and every one of us lies sometimes, premiership managers when talking to the press do it more than most of us I would suggest.
    Loosing Young is not a positive move but it won’t define our season, Southgates decision not to buy a keeper is more likely to do that. I hope even if Hoyte is signed that GS plays McMahon on Saturday, we know he is good and he’s had the benefit of a full pre-season with Boro, in the first instance he has to be the best bet.
    Finally I have just read the Gazette article with the interview of the panel of Boro pundits, who apparently get paid for what they say/write regarding the Boro. What a complete load of old tosh, one of them stated Boro’s season will be measured on where we start and finish! Insightful stuff!!
    **AV writes: A complete load of old tosh? You have seen it before it was edited!

  13. Here we go again 4 days left till the start of the season and Gibson has come out saying ‘dont panic’ we know we have to fill the right back gap and we will before the start of the season. Well here he is in the paper today saying looks like we might not have an experienced defender by saturday! It is the same old, same old with Boro.
    They should not have let young go unless they had a player virtually signed.
    Now we are left with no right back, no keeper and no cover in midfield. Southgate and gibson are doing an awful lot of gambling this season. Maybe we should get back on the shirts.

  14. £3 million for Hoyte? Are we mad? Id pay no more than £2m and even that is pushing it. Apparantly he is the Arsenal squad for tonights game in the Champions League so there is no chance of having him in for saturday.
    Why is it all so frustrating? Why couldnt we have held on to Young until we got a suitable replacement? We held all the cards. He was our player and we shouldnt be in this position. Im fearing the worst on saturday, Bent is on fire, Bentley, Modric look good and we are struggling with injuries.
    I cant watch

  15. Richard – Dun & Bradstreet? I thought in Young’s case the agents were Dunne and Dusted!
    Is it true that Hoyte’s agent is called Yuravin Alaff?

  16. Rumour has it that the Dutch defender our super duper new scouting system has identified is Paul Verhaegh, Vitesse’s captain. His wiki page even suggests he is on trial, though I’m not sure that is to be believed.
    I asked in a Dutch football thread on another forum and:
    He is a rightback, 24 years old iirc. He’s quite alright, has played some matches in Holland u21 I think. Could be a useful signing for Boro.
    Could be useful. Any news AV?
    **AV writes: Eric will release the name tomorrow I think. Verhaegh is one name in the frame. Is it Dutch full back or full back playing in Holland? We’ll have to keep an eye on the Arsenal v Twente game tonight and the big Hoyte v Wilkshire face off.

  17. Played 8, Won 7, Drew 1, Lost 0 Goals For 33 Goals Against 5!!!!!
    In case anyone hasn’t noticed, this is Spurs record in friendlies since July. This is a real test for us, and not easy.
    If we win this one, we have a good platform to go on for the rest of the season. At least if we lose we will lose to a goood side, bang on form. Those stats should show that it shouldn’t be time for the doom and gloom merchants to start.

  18. Sorry but Wenger has always come across to me as being a straight forward guy ….one of the few managers these days that actually have a level headed view of most things and would if necesary avoid the question rather than lie regarding any particular topic.Just my view i know….

  19. Haha, yeah I noticed Luke Wilkshire is now a right back. Must have been interesting for McClaren when they met up again, considering he got rid of him and when you think of the right-back problems we had during his reign.

  20. Ali Al-Habsi is one subject I think me and JP agree on 100%. From what we saw last season, would be a cracking buy.

  21. JP fully agree about Al Habsi, a while back (May 13, 2008 9:44 PM) I posted:
    “Consider the reserve Bolton keeper Al Habsi and his performance at the Riverside versus Jones and Turnbull’s efforts to date.
    In fact considering Al Habsi maybe is not such a bad idea!”
    Would make me feel a lot more comfortable thats for sure, especially considering the exposure now at RB.

  22. It was good to read an article that agreed with my sentiments, and to see so many Boro supporters also agree.
    To suggest that the sale of Luke Young was good for the long term future of MFC and that Luke was “getting old” was an insult to our intelligence. Without Luke Young at right back we are a poorer team, simple.
    So how is that good for MFC? It isn’t and the sale suggests to me that the club is in need of cash. I understand season ticket sales have been disappointing – despite the cheap ticket prices for under 18’s! The credit crunch is hitting hard and the sale of LY is confirmation that MFC is not immune.
    I also think that GS made a big mistake last season in taking the captain’s armband from Boateng – and giving it to Arca! If he had given it to Luke perhaps he would have been persuaded to stay?

  23. Been trying to get on the board for ages, here is a transcript of a tapped phone call. Obviously I cannot reveal my source
    ‘Hi Martin, its Randy, how’re you doing’
    ‘Fine, Mr Lerner, and you? Will we see you soon?’
    ‘May come over for week one. Just called to see how you were getting on with camp with the regular season under two weeks away. Any news on the players?’
    ‘It is called pre season over here Mr Lerner. The good news is that Barry looks like he is staying.’
    ‘Great, he’s the quarter back isn’t he? What about the defensive ends?’
    ‘Barry is what we call a midfield player, he makes the moves so he is similar to a quarterback. What you call defensive ends, we call full backs. I think we will be OK on the left hand side because the team he plays for were relegated so may need to sell because their revenue will go down. If you remember we are not like NFL franchises where you can have a losing season then get the best pick if the new players, the teams that lose the most drop out of the top league.’
    ‘With you on that Martin. What about the right sided one?’
    ‘Problem is that the good ones are at clubs who are not interested in selling and what is more they don’t want to weaken their sides with less than 10 days until the season starts. They will have been through pre season and made all their plans and done all their training and routines, that is why we could do with one coming in now. The ones that are available are available because they are not good enough or their club has been relegated.’
    ‘Surely there must be someone available of the right quality.’
    ‘Look Mr Lerner, no offence but no-one in their right mind would sell their first choice full back to a team they are competing with. Why take the risk of trying to find someone at short notice, there just isn’t a suitable replacement’
    ‘Martin, I made my fortune selling to smucks. I guarantee there is someone dim enough out there to take the money without thinking. Trust me.’
    ‘Ok Mr Lerner, I can but try


  24. AV – John Powls beat me to it, but is Sky correct when they say “Middlesbrough have expressed interest in signing Al Ali Habsi” ??
    If you remember, he kept Bolton in the Premiership single-handed – not an exaggerration – he stopped a number of goals (in spectacular fashion noted by the commentators) that would have caused them to drop points.
    Sky reports that he has one year left, and refuses to sign a new deal, so it would seem that Bolton would feel the same necessity to cash in, as we felt with Young.
    It would be the best signing since Alves ( no disrespect meant to the new young lads ).
    PS Seeing Hoyte on the bench in Holland, combined with Arsenal’s major injury worries, combined with Hoyte’s statements about wanting to stay at Arsenal, would likely make that a dead end…

  25. I’m not sure about Al Habsi myself.
    “If you remember, he kept Bolton in the Premiership single-handed – not an exaggerration – he stopped a number of goals (in spectacular fashion noted by the commentators) that would have caused them to drop points.”
    He only played 10 games in the PL last season, so he didn’t do it all on his own (I dont’ have the stats on how many of those 10 games ended in defeat however).
    What I do remember though is the amount of people who come on this blog to criticise the club when it appears that we buy people simply because they had a good game against us once!

  26. The Count has just been on TALKSPORT and revealed the fee is agreed with ARSENAL and discussions will begin with Hoyte tomorrow. So will this lift the doom and gloom on this blog?
    Just a quick point on the sale of Luke Young. It is normal policy at ARSENAL to move players on when approaching the twilight of their career ie 30, or if they are special just give them a one year extension. This is seen by most as good business sense yet when Southgate does it he is castigated and he managed a profit! Selling their best player a year ago in HENRY was another fans claimed was bad business and couldn’t be replaced. Up stepped ADEBAYOR. The same could be said of MAN YOO and BECKHAM…….

  27. OK, got the stats and I’m even less convinced by the clamour for Al Habsi (I was a Schwarzer fan though, so what do I know?). With Bolton’s number two in the line-up:
    Won 3, Lost 4, Drew 3
    Goals for 8
    Goals against 11
    We’ll only be able to make comparisons once either of our two have had a 10 game run in the PL and even then it won’t be like for like.
    If Jones or Turnbull have a blinder against Bolton will some of their fans be clamouring to buy either of them?

  28. Whats this LOVEMIDDLESBROUGH rubbish. Dishing out postcards, facepaint and free foam hands again. How embarrassing.

  29. Ian Gill – good tapping, I like it!
    I read an excellent article in The Times yesterday commenting on the ‘billionaires’ who have invested in prem. clubs in recent seasons, it refered to the fact that some have been less succesful than others, West Ham, Man City and The Barcodes were mentioned.
    It got me thinking (no easy task) a couple of seasons ago just before the season started we were posting on here expressing our worries that there was an influx of foreign cash into the prem. and as a result Boro would be left behind , Gibbo should sell etc etc.
    In a word – FEAR
    Last season we had no strikers, therefore no goals would come – relegation loomed – FEAR
    This season despite a good pre-season a decent looking squad we sell Young and there are 100+ posts expresing anger/disapointment etc – FEAR
    Lets face it we are close to the start of the season we are looking forward with some anticipation but also with some trepidation.
    Fear is the gap between the known and the unknown and at the moment we don’t know how the season will pan out, hopefully we will beat Spurs and some of the fear will ebb away.

  30. MFC official pages now say that Arsenal have accepted Boro’s bid for 23-year-old Hoyte. So it seems that the club has kept their promise again.
    Why cannot we just trust GS and Gibbo to di their job?
    I think the season looks good – just an extra midfielder is needed. I am sure Gibbo will find the money if the right man comes available.

  31. So season ticket sales 5% up, we all got that one wrong! Great news especially as the ‘new’ supporters are largely from the younger end of the age range.
    We also seem to be on the brink of signing Hoyte, even so playing him on Saturday seems an unnecessary risk to me.
    All we need now is a keeper!!

  32. Just got back from summer hols in anticipation of the new season. AV- I might well have written similar words to your goodself the day the story broke but a week on my view is not so strident.
    We have lost a very decent full back but this does not confirm that we are a selling club. Are Spurs a selling club as they’ve lost Keane and are about to lose Berbatov?Are Man Utd a selling club because they sold Ince Beckham and Van Nisteroy at their peak?
    NO this is football where players come and go and will continue to move about .Somebody once said every player has his price and bar the odd individual with the very biggest clubs this is the case.
    The only thing that bothers me is why didnt we ask Villa to wait for 7-10 days to allow us to identify a replacement.
    We need a replacement , a damn good midfielder and a goalkeeper.An experienced goalie on loan till January would suffice in case the Jones/Turnbull experiment fails.We still have a couple of weeks to do the business.
    I liked Luke Young .He was a solid capable full back and I’m sorry he’s gone.I can assure you that in my time as a Boro fan we’ve lost far more influential players than him and prospered in the long term.Souness Juninho Emerson and Merson spring to mind.

  33. Regarding Al-Habsi, I worked in his home country Oman for a few years and saw him put in some great displays for his country. He single-handedly almost won Oman the GCC cup one year.(equivalent to the old home internationals among the Persian Gulf States). In Oman itself he is the number one sporting superstar – though admittedly there is not a lot of competition for that position. He`s got international and premier league experience and has been noted had some good games last season – especially against the Boro unfortunately.
    So lets give him a go – he won`t cost too much and can`t be any worse than Corporal Jones – with Turnbull as the understudy. Times a-running out GS!

  34. Ian Gill:
    Ian, I liked that! Your sources would appear to be as impeccable as mine!
    When it comes to football (“soccer” that is – the proper football – not the one the US nambies play, throwing their odd shaped “ball” thing and dressed in reinforced ballerina tights that leave little to the imagination and Chobham armour that gives them the (rear) physique profile of Sue Ellen Ewing or a Vulcan bomber in a nose-dive), Randy’s obviously not too fast a Lerner. Maybe one of the New England “sloe” Lerners – with a fondness for pink gin?
    He obviously leaves the finer detail to Martin and just writes the (big) cheques (or should I say “checks”?)!

  35. To Billy (Berks) :
    The assessment of Al-Habsi was from seeing him play (on TV, but for keepers, that is equal or better than in person).
    The goals that he saved in the last weeks of the season, would have relegated Bolton had they not been saved.
    It is harsh to judge a single player in a relegation battle team on Won-Lost record – even a goalkeeper.

  36. Richard
    You may say that but I couldnt possibly comment. But from fans I know Villa have a good chairman, the irony is that elsewhwere fans who laughed and sniggered at the Glazers at ManU have egg on their faces.
    Dont like the situation there but it is better than the infighting at LPool.
    As for us us, Gibbo is a hero but a benign dictator is still a dictator. Wouldnt change him for the muppets we have around the other clubs. Neil Bausor seems to be making a difference to things. Not perfect yet, but moving in the right direction. A most astute aquisition.

  37. Losing Young isn’t a disaster but it is a big, big blow and however you look at it it leaves us weaker. Hoyte may be potential and may be great in two years time but Young was quality now. I’m not sure that trade is so good for the club. We’ll see.
    There’s a lot of talk now (after the event naturally, its the Boro way) how he was a bit of moaner in the changies and so getting rid was a good thing all round but unless Hoyte (or whoever) turns out to be better it could still be egg on face time.
    Young is the best RB we’ve had at the Riverside. Cox, Fleming, Stockdale, Stamp, Mills, Parnaby, Xavier, McMahon… none a patch on him. To go forward you have to bring in better than what you’ve got. We seem to be leaving a lot to chance.

  38. I have to confess to having initial doubts about selling Luke Young but I had heard the rumours that he was unhappy at being so far from his native London. When we identified Justin Hoyte as his replacement it started to look like excellent business on our part, despite his excellent performances last season Luke Young is nowhere near as quick as Hoyte and this lad will improve with regular first team football. Gareth is building a very exciting young team with lots of pace and the thought of either Aliadiere or Emnes down the right with Hoyte behind is a promising combination. He may not be as good a defender as Young but he has the pace to recover from mistakes and Sol Campbell based a whole career on that.

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