Happy New Transfer Window

HAPPY New transfer window! Here goes for what could be a momentous month, one of immense importance to the future development of the club and to the ultimate success of the Southgate project.

There is a potential banana-skin FA Cup looming in which even if Boro fans are not outnumbered by the 7,000 Barrow fans (cue “you’re supposed to be at home”) it will certainly sound like it. Boro also have vital basement battles against Sunderland, West Brom and Blackburn either side of a trip to Chelsea that will determine the tone and the area of the table in which the rest of the season is fought out.
Progress in the cup and a decent return from those league games would ease the mounting political pressure and head the growing anti-Southgate sentiment off at the pass. Seven points from the nine would be excellent, five may be acceptable providing performances are good – especially at home – while four or less would be very hard to sell to the dissenting sections of the crowd and could mean the rest of the season is a tense war of attrition that slips towards ugly internal squabbling in the crowd.
Meanwhile it is a hugely important January in the transfer market too. A fortnight ago the smoke signals from the club suggested that in these times of financial prudence, wage bill trimming and good housekeeping they were powerless to prevent richer scavengers picking over the squad, that the club needed to sell to buy and that every player had their price. We were just waiting for the phone to ring.
In recent days there has been a more defiant public position espoused. The boss has come out and said Stewart Downing is going nowhere, that he is under no pressure to sell any player and that he is keen to keep his important players and add bodies where they are needed, albeit by loans. That is a welcome switch in emphasis.
How January pans out on the transfer front is of huge significance. Finish the month with say Downing gone and O’Neil gone, leaving the midfield bereft of creativity, energy and bodies to be replaced by a couple of untried Serbians and it sends out the signal that the club have downgraded their ambition and their ability to compete and are taking a risky course that ultimately risks relegation.
But if maybe one big name were to be sacrificed, Mido say, and the cash raised was used to tweak elsewhere in the weaker positions and the squad overall was given a more balanced look for little or no outlay then that may well be a boon.
To finish the month will all the key players still in place and with even one or two extra bodies, even obscure loan players with potential for the future, will be regarded as a success, especially if it is accompanied by a decent points return.
The transfer window is open now and the market is already moving. What it brings for Boro will be keenly deconstructed for its political and financial content. It could be a watershed month for the future of the Riverside Revolution.
Happy New Year.

36 thoughts on “Happy New Transfer Window

  1. Happy New Year AV and to all the bloggers.
    Having retired back to the south coast from whence I originate, and therefore having had to give up my my season ticket of 20 years standing, Untypical Boro is a very important way for me to ascertain supporters thoughts and feelings, although I often don’t agree with some of the comments.
    I don’t often comment ‘cos I’m usually so angry after another defeat or poor performance and yourself, Ian, John,Nigel etc and even Tony Black are often more succinct and lucid than I could ever be; or perhaps I’m just a lazy southern git!!
    I now rely on Sky live and Saturday night extended highlights and Setanta for my fill, although I did get to Fulham – dreadful wasn’t it – and hope to get to the Emirates.
    Anyway, keep it up bloggers and I hope to put my own pennyworth in more often from down here in the football wilderness… apart from the soon to emerge Brighton of course.
    Almost forgot, lets get a cm in and a striker. Byebye Mido.

  2. I’m not sure if anything coming out of the club can be believed right now.
    Only last week Southgate blatantly attempted to re-write history by inferring that last January Woodgate had to be sold to fund the purchase of Alves.
    On checking back to that time the exact opposite was stated by Southgate. He said then that Woodgate did not have to be sold to fund planned player recruitment and it was up to the boy to decide if he wanted to stay or go.
    I predict a similar scenario this time around. We will accept a £12m bid for Stewie from ‘Twitcher’ Redknapp at Spurs and then proclaim that it’s up to the player whether he wants to leave or fight for the club.
    I fear there will be no contest.

  3. Happy New Year AV and bloggers.
    I have got a feeling January will be kind to us. We will batter Barrow, beat the Mackems, maul Mogga and after a narrow defeat at Chelsea will draw with Fat Sam. That should be enough to keep the knee-jerk brigade quiet for a while.
    I think we might get away without any major defections too. Gibbo made a big deal last January to keep Stewie Downing, took on his agent in public and told all the clubs interested they had no chance. Can’t see him letting him go this January. Summer maybe when there is time to replace him.
    I think Mido may leave and we’ll get a striker and/or a midfielder on loan. Plus we will have Digard back and fit again soon. We’ll be alright.

  4. To scrape home against Sunderland and Blackburn (1 -0 with the ball creeping over the line via the ref’s backside would be fine by me) and a point against the Baggies would be a good start to 2009. We should beat Barrow SURELY!
    If not, we hardly deserve to be in the Premier League, and the pressure on Gareth would become intolerable. But if we get the results mentioned above, everything takes on a more rosy hue. People would start to smell the fumes from those foam hands again.
    Have a great 2009 bloggers everywhere – from Australia to Ayton, Brighton to Baku, Chesterfield to Canterbury, Dubai to Dormo etc. May the Laphroig flow freely, to dull the credit cruch blues of the year to come. As they said in the song “Things can only get better….”

  5. I’d be perfectly happy with no comings or goings during January, although it looks like we might be closing in on Steven Fletcher from Hibs for £2.5m, who looks a good prospect, good enough for Real Madrid to have taken a look at apparently.
    Looking back, the noises coming from the club earlier in the month could well have affected some of our performances and it would have been better had we put the ‘not for sale’ signs up earlier, but better late than never I suppose.
    As for the upcoming games, I’m looking forward to the Barrow game as I’ve forgotten what winning and scoring looks like – though knowing Boro, it won’t be that simple. Hopefully Gareth will play a full-strength team, Alves in particular has to play.
    Five points is the absolute minimum from the 4 games you mention, and we should certainly be looking for seven. No game is ‘must-win’ at this stage, but Sunderland looks like a massively huge game, one we obviously want to win, but absolutely cannot lose.
    I noticed on Betfair today that Boro are 16/1 outsiders to finish top of the North-East four (including Hull), ridiculous odds if you ask me, and being the eternal optimist, I stuck a couple of quid on.
    Happy new year to all, here’s to a succesful 2009.

  6. AV:
    Your Trinity-Mirror colleague Dan Silvers has an interesting horror list of Top-10 January transfer window flops in his 31 Dec 2008 column, from which I’ve lifted the following depressing listing –
    “10) Afonso Alves (Heerenveen to Middlesbrough, £12m, 2008)
    Proof that holding a Brazilian passport doesn’t automatically make you a footballing God, Afonso Alves pitched up at the Riverside on transfer deadline day with a CV boasting 45 goals in 39 starts for his previous club. Unfortunately for long-suffering Boro fans, that club was Heerenveen in the somewhat shonky Dutch league. Alves’ return of nine goals from 29 Premier League matches tells its own story
    Some Boro locals, reflecting their own emotional involvement, absent in Mr Silver’s cool objectivity, may feel that a 10th placement may actually be rather generous!
    Maybe this is one of those famous weekly lessons that Gareth has been learning all year and maybe now, doing nothing in January is considered a better bet than buying (now) relatively expensive and Premier League untried foreign imports. Personally, I’m hopeful that Alves will come good, but I think to do so, he’ll need to be supported and fed by a considerably stronger midfield.
    The recent collapse of sterling against most of the world’s currencies, but particularly the Euro, raises many interesting points for our football clubs; one major considation being that it’s now about 20% more expensive to bring European players here than it was about a month ago and offers for British-based players will be correspondingly easier for European clubs to make.
    “Buying” British clubs may be tempted to try to raid other British clubs in preference to bring in new foreign talent.
    It adds a further dimension to the foresight and good sense of Boro’s investment in the academy, from which we ought to benefit in climates like these and if there’s worse to come.
    I also noted from a browse through the newspapers that Ross Turnbull, Adam Johnson, James Morrison were all mentioned in a 2008 list of top-50 most-improved British footballers, in The Times. If we add to that, Downing, Wheater, Cattermole, McMahon, Bates and several others who’s profiles will undoubtedly develop as they progress through the ranks, it’s an impressive list.
    In this economic climate the potential benefits of the Academy, at least in principle, if not in absolutely quantifiable terms is fairly clear to see.

  7. The recent pronouncements from the club have generated pressure, dissatisfaction and despair without having to resort to ones internal ‘Typical Boro’ genes.
    Someone got it wrong in painting such a bleak picture with messages about selling to survive, people like Pogo coming out and saying musn’t sell best players, we expected a poor performance low on confidence, no phone calls yet, musn’t get distracted by the window etc.
    The only people to blame are the club, not the press or the fans. The club, full stop, end of story.
    The players have been poor on the pitch and it does not take a a great stretch of the imagination to link this with the words and mood emanating out of MFC.
    The message is better now and more less downbeat, lets keep it like that. We dont need the ‘Europe next’ stories, just knuckle down and get some points.
    I am with John over the target of points needed. After our poor run draws are not much good. Sunderland are now able to come thinking a point is fine because it keeps Boro down below them, if they pinch all three that would be brilliant. That is a major shift from a month ago.
    We also need at least four points from the Baggies and Blackburn to move us away from the basement end of the table.
    Mido out and someone in would be good, for the rest a quiet window wouldnt go amiss.

  8. Happy New Year to AV and other Boro bloggers.
    Interesting times – I don’t see Downing to go though. But Mido for Hibs’ striker Steven Fletcher will do for me.
    Alves will be OK after a goal or two – hopefully he starts against Barrow. But he needs support and right kind of balls from our midfield…
    So all I hope is a midfielder added to our squad as well as Digard back soon!

  9. AV, again spot on inyour analysis. Not that I doubt the quality or accuracy of other Gazette journos – they are only reporting what they are told but yours is the column I look to first.
    I suppose “fed up” or “grounhog day” is where we are again. Rumour mill in overdrive, despondancy and disbelief on the terraces.
    I like you think that we have been softened up for this years kill by the PR machine at MFC. So much so that the only surprise will be if Stewie stays!!!
    That said his performances (and most of his mates) have not been electrifying. Yes a couple of gutsy displays where we got a point and just missed a few more.
    Ref blunders, clockwatching and inconsistency. Come on Boro we need a cheer up before we attack the GP and demand medication. Warning: most peoples depression turns to anger – and it won’t belong before that manifests itself onto the terraces.

  10. So then what happens now? Reports on MFC website say Spurs have made a tentative inquiry about Downing but suggest the bid isnt enough and that they will have to seriously up it to tempt us to sell.
    If he dosn’t go in this window he is nailed on to get away in the summer. I don’t think its a bad move if he goes to another club. £15 million would do nicely and as long as most of it can go back into the team then I would take it all day long.
    Jinky is ready and waiting we have seen enough now to suggest he can do it at this level and regular action I think will see him progress quickly and he will be a top top player.
    As for the others, O’Neil can go and Mido as well. If that happens then those young Serbs I’d get in along with maybe a sneaky bid for either Diop/Bullard or Hamann on a 6 month deal. Other than that there isn’t going to be much business and I cant see Sky Sports having anyone pitched outside Rockliffe at 11:59 on 31st.
    Onto tomorrow and its a massive game. This is our season its a chance to get some confidence but more than that its a chance to get goals. Id be licking my lips if i was Alves. Its going to be tough but it should be three clear goals at least. good performance and goals galore wil set us up nicely for the mackems…….
    COME ON BORO!!!!!!

  11. Interesting to see John Powls mention Morrison. It has been reported that Bolton have offered £3M for him in the last week. I believe we sold him to WBA for about £1.5m so it got me wondering whether a sell-on clause was inserted as part of the deal? If Mr Lamb had used a little forward thinking during the negotations, we could be due 20% (for example) of that £1.5M profit.
    Of course, this is the Boro so I assume no such clause was even considered when selling an England youth international player 😦
    Looking at the speculation about players arriving & leaving in the next month, I would be surprised if no business happens at all, as much as the manager has alluded to it. I expect either O’Neil or Mido to be gone soon & as far as I am concerned it will make little impact on the results. O’Neil has delivered very little in his time at the Boro & Mido has a fitness record to rival Boksic or Viduka !!
    Downing may stay, but I suspect the club will simply be delaying the inevitable. Interestingly enough, players tend to attract a big premium when bought by desperate clubs in the winter transfer window. They may regret not cashing in now if any bid next summer is significantly lower than any fee they could have expected to receive this January.

  12. … under the cover of darkness the transit van coasted to a halt, just past Belle Vue Roundabout.
    Don’t forget, Emnes as first goalscorer; if he doesn’t start tomorrow he never will.
    Never mind that, our lass is going to kill me.
    Look, just give her that Parmo, tell her there was a big queue.
    Big queue!? I’ve been gone three days.
    Just shows how popular Parmo’s are…

  13. Hello AV
    This letter is not to comment on any article or reports, after 62 years of supporting Boro, you know my feelings towards the club. We have all had periods of optimism and then the inevitable struggles. It’s never changed, it’s always been like struggling to make ends meet, just like it was after the war. I can’t add anything useful to your younger “experts” but I suspect our struggles will go on and on.
    The only really good thing was our League Cup victory but I did enjoy our keeper, Dave Cummings, I think, flattening Leslie Compton in 1946 or 47. Funny thing is I have hated Arsenal ever since.
    We have had some good players but not all at the same time.I bet no one remembers Martin Reagan, a right winger. He was absolute lightening. He was though, before Cloughie and his endless crosses came to nothing. And then there was Lindy Delapenha, similar to Emerson and with the same powerful shot. When we put floodlights in for the first time, we played Newcastle in a friendly. Lindy took a penalty and broke the net. Perhaps it wasn’t fixed properly at the bottom but the legend lived on for years.
    There were players I loved and players I hated. Like everybody Wilfie was a delight. Which brings me to my reason for writing. Where can I get hold of an Evening Gazette report of the famous match against Blackpool? There was a front page summary and an in depth report inside the Sports Gazette that Saturday night by Cliff Mitchell of course. I was there, as you would expect and read with interest over the years, many inaccurate reports of Wilfies performance. What a difference now to the players of the past.
    I remember having coffee in Rea’s with Lindy sitting next to me and I remember Derek Stonehouse who played several hundred games for the Boro at the same time being a full time bricklayer. He would travel to work on the United at 7-30 each morning from Lingdale going to building sites at Nunthorpe and beyond.
    I always hope to live long enough to see greatness. What a dream “Boro with eleven home grown players trounce Arsenal with eleven foreigners to secure a place in Europe”, what a headline. And my favourite player, Craig Hignett a 100% tryer.
    John Dobson

  14. Aliadiere is lucky his leg is not broken as we still need him.Lots of people on here are wishing away our best players, why? We need to add to the squad not dissemble it!
    More shooting practice required before my ‘Goal Machine’ sticker goes back across the car rear window.
    Happy new year to all Boro fans. Selling our best players has always been a mistake.

  15. Happy New Year now that the banana skin is out of the way!
    As JP above said it was pretty shameful yesterday still I’m prepared to accept that it was just “Typical FA Cup” rather than “Typical Boro”. Lets face it, there are a few red faces today especially in the Potteries, just glad we are still in the draw!
    GO’Ns hammy was probably to keep options open, Mido’s cup tieing appearance was irrelevant as Wigan were tossed out by that unassuming, perennial underachieving bunch of Southerners. Stewy’s appearance was Lamby’s way of a polite boardroom gesture to the same whining Southerners.
    Good news about Ali, although doubt we will see him for a few weeks now but should give both Jinky and Emnes opportunities. Not convinced that Fletcher from Hibs is ready for the Prem yet, I have no problem in longer term investing but right now think we need a little more short term fixes – although please not Hamman as David above suggests!
    Now we need Alves to keep in the mood and to sort out our defending from corners…….lets hope we can continue to make these small steps!

  16. Everton are set to launch an £8m bid for Racing Santander striker Mohamed Tchite, 24. (The People)
    Oh Dear! Manna from heaven for rival fans.
    “Your’e Tchite! and you know you are…

  17. So we got past Barrow though with the usual set piece goal against.
    At least Alves got a couple of goals made by Downing and one of them was a collectors item – a header.
    But how many times will we see Stewie crosses in a red shirt with the BBC reporting a pending transfer request. Spurs have played this one well with a bid more suited to a championship player than an England international no doubt designed to unsettle him.
    Let us just get as much as possible and move on.

  18. We rather limped across the finishing line against Barrow, didn’t we? Players lining up to have shots, not necessarily when they were in the best position to shoot and a colleague was standing in space, then often seeing those shots going wide. Their goalie did well, but two goals wasn’t a return to boast about.
    At least Alves got a couple but he needs to do that in the Premier League against proper opposition and we can’t wait much longer for him to hit league form. It was inevitable that we wouldn’t keep a clean sheet, and next week I imagine Cisse and Kenwynne Jones must think they are a greater threat than anything Barrow had to offer. In which case I guess we will need at least a couple of goals to get the points.
    Finally I know in the last post I missed the second “a” out of Laphroaig. Nothing to do with consumption of the liquid, more to do with typing ability and the failure to proof-read before hitting “send”. I have to say, though, that after eyeing up the bottle longingly for AGES, the first three glasses were as good as the anticipation that had been slowly building up. The pleasure lived up to the promise.
    How long was it that we felt the same way after a Boro performance?

  19. Was yesterday’s match Downing’s swansong? If so let him go for the maximum amount possible and move on. Johnson is a better prospect and if given a good run in the side he can become the player we expect him to be.
    Similarly if GON wants away, let him go.We want players who want to be here and are hungry and up for the fight. I say all this in full anticipation of Southgate having ready made replacements .
    This scenario could have been avoided with better results on the pitch and not inferring that we had to sell our best players. We are too naive on and off the pitch in the dog-eat dog world of the Premiership. Like all Boro supporters I hope rather than expect us to be victorious in the next two matches.

  20. Well, it looks like Stewie will be off sooner rather than later, Sky report he will hand in a transfer request tomorrow morning. I’m sure there will be a long debate about whether or not he should be sold, but if he doesn’t want to be here then that debate is irrelevant.
    Personally, I think it’s time he moved on, he’s been fantastic for Boro but all good things must come to an end. Boro hold the aces in the negotiations with Spurs, Stewie’s on a long contract and his replacement is with the club already, so its imperative in my mind that we hold out for big money. Surely he’s worth £15 million? The king is dead, long live….jinky!
    As for Mido, well he’s contributing not a jot to us, so again if he is to leave the key is what we get for him, O’Neil is a little different, but again if he wants to return south there is little point keeping him, he’ll need replacing with a decent player though, a young Serb with potential is not the short term answer. It needs to be someone with premiership experience.
    If we do loose both O’Neil and Downing then we’ll need to keep our fingers crossed for the remainder of the season, losing such experience in midfield will be a huge blow.
    If we had been ninth/tenth in the league then I’d be relaxed, but seventeenth is not a good place to be when you lose two key midfield players. We need Digard fit and sharpish, we also need Hoyte, Wheater, Huth and Pogi as the regular back four, its time for some hard graft!
    Isn’t it always thus in January?

  21. FD: How can you get as many as 3 glasses out of a bottle of Laphroaig? Are you sure you’re not a magician from South Bank? Hic!

  22. I’m just loving this season, it’s got to be the best for years.
    At the halfway stage, just 5 points seperate the bottom half of the league, and just 10 points seperate the bottom 14. At the top there are 3 genuine title contenders (rather than the usual 2) and 6 genuine contenders for the top 4 Champions League positions – and the ‘top 4’ has not been the ‘big 4’ for the last 3 weeks now.
    The biggest gap in the league is 4 points (between 2nd and 3rd and 7th and 6th). For goodness sake there’s only 27 points between top and bottom.
    Wonder what the equivalent stats were for last year or five – vastly different I would expect! It’s so close that if you were a West Brom fan you wouldn’t be giving up on Europe yet…and how many seasons would the bottom club be able to say that at the halfway mark?
    It’s a great sign of health within the competition, and long may it last. What could be better, the ‘big 4’ gradually getting hauled back to the pack, and the new clubs coming up from division two no longer accepting whipping boy status and making a good fist of staying up.
    Of course, as a Boro supporter it’s going to lead to a very nerve racking few months…and quite probably few years. But better this than playing in a competition that is a foregone conclusion before it starts.
    With the draw for the 4th round, looks like the FA Cup may be another classic this year, with plenty of room for a smaller club to progress. Bring it on!!
    PS – Well done to Hartlepool for Saturday’s result, and a great draw for the next round.

  23. Downing? Will he go or will he stay? Not if we believe what Gibbo is saying, and to be fair why shouldn’t we?
    In the Times Gibbo is quoted as saying: “I can confirm that we have received an offer from Spurs for Stewart Downing and I can also confirm that we have rejected that offer.”
    Gibson said. “I’ve spoken to Daniel Levy and told him categorically that their interest is not welcome. I’ve also told him that we will not entertain any further offers for Stewart or, for that matter, any other senior member of our squad. The same applies to Tuncay and it also applies to Gary O’Neil.
    “I repeat: none of our senior players will be leaving the Riverside Stadium this month. We’ve got a talented group of players and it’s time for us to knuckle down and focus on the job in hand. As far as we’re concerned, this is now an end to the matter.”
    Gibbo, like us is clearly worried about our PL status and is obviously stating that money is not the overridng factor given our lowly league position.
    It’s a tough call, because if you refuse to sell, or accept a players’s transfer request, how do you get the best out of that player?
    We cannot afford to let any of our players go, not now whilst we are in grave danger of slipping out of this league, but by the same token those same players are the ones letting US down week in week out.
    I can’t put my finger on the reason or reasons why this team of ours just cannot get motivated from one week to the next, but I’m sure that a right royal hair dryer job from Gibbo is overdue (if he hasn’t already done so) to let some of our highly paid, highly strung, self centered players know where their bread is buttered.
    And if Downing does put in a transfer request, it will be obvious to everyone that he has no belly for a fight, and that he is willing to turn his back and walk away from his home town club, and watch from afar as they struggle to stay afloat. Much like his best buddy Mr Woodgate.
    So if you’re reading this Stewy, be a man, put your personal needs on the back burner, and tell the rest of the squad to roll up your sleeves and die for this club and it’s fans!!
    **AV writes: The latest developments and exclusive information from inside the Downing camp in tonight’s Stewart Downing.

  24. So depending on whether you’re buying or selling then Downing is worth either £6m or £15m – presumably these are just bagaining figures that aim to get the best deal of around the true price of £10-12m.
    Having said that it’s true that spurs paid £17m for Bentley which is a good benchmark for a Downing deal given the lack of left-sided quality players.
    Though it looks like we’re in for a Gareth Barry situation if Downing hands in a transfer request and Gibbo stands firm.
    As for the Boro in general – make no mistake we are currently the worst performing team in the Premiership – three points from 24 and no wins.
    If this had been the first eight games then Southgate would have been history – if we don’t turn it around soon then the Championship surely beckons.
    I predict the next couple of games will determine if we see a busy transfer window or a quieter steady the ship approach.
    Still, I hope we ditch Mido ASAP as he doesn’t look interested in Boro – at least Downing has served us well over the years and probably needs a move to keep him mentally fresh – though not until the summer as Jinky will surely be Crockliffed a week after any deal and then what?

  25. Having read Neil’s post I’ve just looked at The Times article.
    It’s reassuring to read that Steve Gibson is showing strong leadership, as I posted above losing two key midfield players in o’Neil and downing would not leave us in a good place for the rest of the season, so if SG is as good as his word, which he always is we can assume now that Stewie is here until May.
    As for players who want to leave being told they cant go and the worry of how they subsequently perform, Martin O’Neils handling of Gareth Barry is a perfect example of how to keep a player focused.
    I’m sure Downing and O’Neil are professional enough to get on with the job, what we dont need is the crowd getting on their backs because it is known they want to leave.

  26. Given the precarious position of his hometown club, you’d have thought Downing could at least have waited until the end of the season before requesting a transfer. Must be his agent.
    Wouldn’t want SD to become the new Beagrie…

  27. As posted earlier the club havent handled news emanating from the Riverside at all well.
    Hopefully Gibson, Lamb, Bausor and Gate have sat down and thrashed out what the message is so they can sing off the same hymnsheet. Let us hope it isnt too late.
    If you peddle doom and gloom, if you have senior players coming out asking for top players not to be sold, if you come out post match and state you expected poor performances, if you shrug your shoulders when player transfers are discussed, if you say no phone calls yet then if fans feel concerned it is no huge surprise the players start getting itchy feet. It doesnt take a great mental leap to link performances on the pitch with attitudes. May be wrong but the evidence in front of my eyes hasnt shown a team busting their guts out.
    In Downings case it was always likely he would move at some point to further his career. That has always been the case of good quality players, they have a short career and want to test themselves at the best possible level.
    This window may not be the time unless someone offers real spondoolies. To those who say take £10m, if Bentley is in and out of the Spurs team, is behind or level with Downing in the England pecking order then £15m is a fair price for Downing.
    He is a current England International with 20+ caps and is only 24. If we get a really good price it will be in the interests of the club to take it as long as we can strengthen the squad in the right places.
    It is not the best time for it all to blow up with three crucial league matches coming up but we just have to get on with it.

  28. Nigel
    I have no doubts Downing and O’Neill will be professional, they are not the types to throw toys out of prams.
    The difficulty is, if it is niggling away at the back of their minds it may affect performances subconciously.
    The one thing I cannot lay at Downings door is lack of feeling for the club no matter what the bitter, twisted and jealous may say.
    We tend as fans to want our footballers to adopt far different standards to the ones we set ourselves. We are quite happy to move jobs, even areas to better ourselves or provide for our families. We are even happy to take a sideways step for our health.
    If one of the national newspapers offered AV a substantial salary increase to work for them as the North East correspondent none of us would blame him if he took the offer.
    But a local lad who has made good, played at world cups, an England international who wants to get to the highest level possible is likelt to be cast as a villain.
    We dont know what picture was painted for Stewart last year that encouraged him to stay. I suspect it isnt doing exactly what it states on the tin.
    In O’Neills case, we dont know what is going on in the background but he seems to give 100% on the pitch.
    The ironic situation is Mido’s brother saying he wants to play regular football. A good start would be turning up for the game.

  29. I have some small sympathy with Downing, in that it’s clear that the promises of team strengthening have come to nought and the clubs ambitions are suspect at best.
    However, why he has chosen to try to force his way out now is beyond me. If he had waited until the summer, he could have helped his hometown club avoid relegation, kept faith with the fans (who all expected him to go then anyway) and have a wider choice of destinations with a probably larger transfer fee for us and him.
    Instead, he has potentially torpedoed the club below the waterline. So far there is only one club in for him, offering a fee described as derisory and that Downing should have felt derided by.
    We could lose arguably our best asset for a price that doesn’t come close to compensating the loss. His loss would lower our prospects this season and improve our competitors, as well as damaging dressing room stability. And the fans will not thank him for it.
    Let’s hope more clubs come in so we can get serious recompense – 12M is the absolute minimum.
    AV – my posting yesterday was lost to the ether, was it because there was an URL in it? I was trying to point John Dobson towards theborofc(dot)info for some old boro match reports.
    **AV writes: A link address shouldn’t be a problem but how can say in this lawless zone of cyberspace. Try again and I’ll check it before I press the button.

  30. But if we did sell Downing and O’Neil then who are these ready made replacements? Because in my opinion I can’t see any player of the same or better standard as Downing or O’Neil wanting to come to the Boro at the moment.
    Nervy times ahead for the club and I think Southgate and the board have gone the wrong way about the transfer policy this year.
    They have expected too much from a young team and a young manager. It’s alright to say well the team and manager are young so they can learn from their mistakes. But it will be too late to learn from their mistakes once we are in the Championship.
    Luckily it hasn’t blown up in their faces just yet so there is time to fix it. Some real leadership and experience needed this month, and quickly.

  31. Beware of ‘Arry the dealer. He’ll probably get Downing for £10m and sell one of his reserves for £15m. I for one hope Gibson and Southgate go away. I’m sick of the spin coming out of their mouths. It’s been the same for years from Gibson, although the previous managers all got the the blame for keeping fans in the dark.

  32. Supposed you supported your local team through thick and thin and most of it through thin and thinner. Then suppose the club seemed unprofessional, amateurish and naive in its management over the years and slowly declined to becoming predictable in its ability to constantly shoot itself in the foot through repetitive stupidity with little or no hope for optimism.
    Despite this you turn up week in week out giving total support even venting your frustration on web site blogs pointing out the same old, same old, only to be met with spin after spin with never any substance or lessons learned.
    Now just about all of us on here can relate to all of this because it just about describes the feelings and emotions of about 70% of us at the minute.
    My question is if your name is Stewart Downing why are you supposed to believe/act any different to the majority of us on here? And if you do feel the same how do you get your point across? How do you make the powers that be sit up and take notice? Ultimately when you realise that they just don’t learn and just don’t listen, what then?
    **AV writes: I don’t think the analogy works because no matter how frustrated none of the fans you describe are about to transfer their allegiance to another club they perceive as bigger, or better run or more likely to win things.
    The only way to look at it as employees moving between different companies after calculating the variables of income, status, job satisfaction, location and impact on family. The numbers may have more noughts on the end but ultimately it is no different to you or me. Most workers see their relationship as purely economic. A few, increasingly smaller in number, have a genuine emotional attachment.
    To try to graft any abstract notions of fandom to them is a red herring.

  33. Boro should let Downing go if he doesnt want to be there and look to bring in new players who can bring back the good days when there was a brazilian samba to the boro.
    Jean Carlos Alves Coral and André Ricardo Soares are fantastic players who are proven goal scorers which has lead to them being closely followed by several top teams. They have both just missed out on call ups for Brazil but missed out to the £30 million strikers. they are both very good players who can get picked up for a good price and they ill link up with Sanli very well.

  34. I believe our strikers are not to blame for the current lack of goals, but the lack of service from midfield. Sell Mido by all means to raise funds, but use them to buy an experienced CM player who could pull the strings.
    Wouldn’t it great to have someone like Paul Scholes out there? He wouldn’t have to run much, just do the same sort of job Bobby Murdoch did in the seventies, directing the kids around him. Then watck Downing and Alves blossom!

  35. AV I believe that Stewy is a Boro lad and a Fan like the rest of us. I also believe that it took a huge amount of heartsearching to reach his conclusion and won’t have been easy for him regardless of the money and bright lights.
    Granted we don’t switch our allegiance but I fully agree with the rationale behind his decision. To us its a sport, to him its a livelihood and he only has a short timeframe to achieve his ambitions. Look where Catts, Boat, Luke and Skippy are in the league table and contrast that with the dream he (and the rest of us) were sold this time last year.
    If Stewy hadn’t kicked off would things change at the Boro currently? I think he cares enough to know that somebody had to stand up and say enough is enough, somebody that will be listened to. Things may not change, I doubt they will if I’m being honest. Ultimately if he moves on then fair play to him but I don’t believe his motives are entirely for his own personal gratification.

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