Transfer Window Watch: It’s Warming Up

THE TRANSFER merry-go-round is creaking into action as we go into a watershed few days that could have a massive impact on the immediate future of the club.
Our counterparts at the Stoke Sentinel insist Robert Huth’s arrival at the club to talk personal terms on a £6m move and take a medical is imminent – and that Tuncay may be arriving with him. They have their snappers staking out the training ground.
Stoke hope to push their Huth move through today and make significant progress over the weekend in their talks with Boro’s Turkish talisman, who was “not in a fit state to play ” at Forest because of all the distractions. Bless.
The Potters appear to be Tuncay’s Plan B after a mooted move to Birmingham fell foul of Hong Kong Stock Exchange rules that prevented their new owners making substantial asset acquisition before the red tape is finalised. We understand his agents are also still working on Plans C, D and E.
Meanwhile Blackburn are weighing up a £2m move for Andrew Taylor if, as expected, their first choice left back Stephen Warnock completes a £6m move to Aston Villa.


None of those are surprising. Huth has had a brilliant start to the season and there is no doubt his exit will be a set-back to our early optimism and burgeoning promotion hopes but the bottom line is what it is all about. He is one of the big earners and has had what it would be generous to call a chequered injury record and so the club were always going to cash him in if at all possible.
The player himself has ambitions of playing at the World Cup in South Africa next season and needs to be in the top flight spotlight for the sake of his international career (this post-relegation exit is known as “playing the Juninho card.”)
Tuncay has played the same card and his agent has been in talks with a string of clubs, even though Turkey’s trip to South Africa looks less certain. Again though, a big earner who wants out. The club can’t afford to keep anyone in either of those categories. Whether he will even get a touch of the ball at Stoke we can only speculate although Huth seems a perfect fit with the Tony Pulis route one philosophy.
The fact that he appears to have agreed a deal with Birmingham and a £5m fee has now been established will help Boro. It will sharpen the minds of other prospective suitors lurking in the shadows waiting for a late bargain and may force a few into the open.
Taylor will be less than pleased to have slipped to second choice left back behind Jonathan Grounds and while he has made no noises about leaving other clubs will have noticed. A lot of Boro fans have him pencilled in as a weak link and at times he has edged into scapegoat territory but he remains a key member of England’s highly-rated Under 21 squad, he has played over 100 Premier League games and has European experience. That’s not a bad CV and you can see why a Blackburn would be keen.
On the incoming side, talks with free agent Danny Webber are back on. The energetic if not prolific striker, released by Sheffield United , has so far turned down Crystal Palace and Swansea with both clubs saying his agenst have expressed a preference for Boro and tey are just waiting for funds to be freed up. Watch this space.
And there could be more. Asked about movement after the Forest game on Tuesday boss Gareth Southgate insists that he had a list of targets, that things were shaping up behind the scenes on them and that he had plans in place to cover every eventuality… presumably including the exit of one of his defensive linchpins. Bobo Balde? Don’t laugh.
When Huth was asked pitchside after the game about a move before the window shut the terse Teutonic towerblock deadpanned: “I am happy at Middlesbrough. I love it here. Why are you asking me that question?”
Could be a busy weekend. And not just down in Bristol.
*****UPDATE*****
The reality of Huth’s diagonal move to the slightly bigger for now time was confirmed when he was unveiled gloomily holding up a striped shirt in front a small scale replica of the Riverside pondering what the hell he had done.
“It was a no-brainer to come here once I found out they wanted to sign me,” he said unconvincingly. ” I’m grateful for the chance to play in the Premier League again.”
And that is it in a nutshell. He wants to be in the Premiership and it didn’t matter that it was Boro, Bolton, Wigan, Hull or Blackburn that came in. Unless we are doing him a disservice and he actually has always dreamed of playing for the mighty Potters, the team of his boyhood heroes Dennis Smith and Chris Kamara.
Meanwhile Tuncay has yet to sign but the club say they expect it to go through today. What has he done? He will have been waiting and praying overnight and desperately hoping another side, one that actually may pass the ball to him on the ground, came in. Huth is a decent fit with Stoke’s style and you can see some logic. But Tuncay?
Even the Potters fans message boards are enthusuastically unsure about where the hell he will play? He doesn’t suit there physicality, their shape, their agricultural approach and some are worried that if they change to accomodate him – even drop Rory Delap! – then it will detract from what they have been good at and what kept them up last year. He can be their Juninho and take them down in a heart-warming flurry of whole-hearted entertaining confusion.
He has prepared the way for the move by playing to the gallery and bigging up the Stoke fans and the admittedly impressive atmosphere they generate. Prepare for the sickening feeling when you see him on the Match of the Day early show kissing the badge after stabbing home his first goal from a Delap howitzer.
Elsewhere Blackburn have signed nomadic French full-back and signing on fee junkie Pascal Chimbonda for £2m and the BFS is ready to play him at left back which effectively rules out any prospect of them moving for Andrew Taylor.

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99 thoughts on “Transfer Window Watch: It’s Warming Up

  1. While today’s news was not welcome, I think there has been a bit of an over reaction by some of us. Everything will all look better when we win on Saturday.

  2. We got £11m for a crock who managed an average 17 games a season while he was here and spent the over 2/3 of his time picking up £50k on the treatment table and a fancy dan impossible to fit into any position or system who disappeared for three months last season and who arrived on a fvree transfer.
    Why are people wetting their knickers over this? We all knew they wanted out. When they played it has been with price tag on the back of the shirts where the number should be. These players helped get us relegated and couldn’t get out fast enough. Now people are turning them into so kind of heroes.

  3. Seems to me we are starting to get to the truth. We look at Newcastle and call it asset stripping and blame it on the cockney Boro are doing the same but we call it what?…..Oh yes balancing the books.
    Boro lower middle team by 12 weeks time and Gareth you are Blameless, it is Gibson but then again you are a high earner, when do you go? Got that one. This is your fourth year of a four year contract……who’s the sucker now?

  4. AV.
    Obviously Steve Gibson has been amazing for this club, and the things he has done won’t be forgotten. But is it a crime to criticize him?
    Everyone says that he is the best chairman in the business, but is it not blatantly obvious that he decides who is bought and who is sold. And the only reason he chose Gareth Southgate as manager is that so he could still call all the shots.
    Can I just ask you, if we are in such a state financially, who got us in this mess? Is it me as a supporter for wanting success? If so,then every club in the country should be in trouble, because we all want success. It’s just annoying that we should just pay our money and shut up.
    **AV writes: We are in a mess because for a decade the club had a crazy, unsustainable transfer policy and we paid over the top fees and wages for the likes of Boksic, Pallister, Gazza, Maccarone, Viduka, Mendieta, Hasselbaink – and many more – and never got a penny back for any of them.
    We spent heavily and had a fantastic time buying teams that got us to Wembley, Cardiff and Eindhoven on Gibbo’s plastic and now it is time to pay the bills.

  5. I think some are missing the point here.
    Huth and Tuncay going is not a surprise,and expected by most. It’s the standard of team they have chosen to join above the Boro that really hurts – STOKE CITY!!!!
    Even a club, likely to struggle and be relegated is considered a better bet than playing for the Boro. Thats the opinion of two players who know whats happening inside the club whereas we fans do not.
    I hope the good start continues, but it is becoming clear that the management of our club is where the problems lie, and it looks like things are yet to get worse before getting better!!

  6. And so the habitual moaners finally have their excuse to let loose the torrent of bile that has been held back for weeks by good results. Go ahead lads, get the bile off your chests.
    Last year Huth was being used to beat the club. He was an over paid crock who hadn’t been scouted properly, didn’t play enough games, who didn’t produce when he was playing, who helped get us relegated and who we would be lucky to off load given his wages, lack of ability and injury record.
    Now suddenly he is the new Messiah, a badge kissing Boro-through-and-through loyalist who is being forced out by evil asset strippers and the world is going to end now he has left us. Jeez. Stop whinging.
    No one, aprt from the really dim, has been duped into buying a season ticket over this. We all knew in the close season exactly who the club were trying to sell and why – Downing, Alves, Tuncay, Mido, Huth. Why the shock horror gasp outrage that four out of the five are gone? If anything get angry there’s one left. That’s the bad news for the club.
    Some of these perpetually angry idiots in the crowd who latch onto the least set-back and turn it into the apocalypse would have exploded with rage back in the 80s. I fear for their mental health if we don’t go up.
    They should check the small print on their Sky Sports new football glory hunting contract. It can’t be right that a small club with declining crowds that has spent beyond its means and have been relegated have to sell players. Surely they have some moral and legal get out clause and they can switch allegiance to Man Utd. Please do.
    How much plainer can it be? We have no money left. We have to sell these players to balance the books after years of excess paying aging mercenaries over the top we could never really afford. What else do you want the club to do?
    Demanding Gibson spend money we havent got is infantile and irresponsible and sums up the selfish and short sighted attitude of “fans” who think they have a God given right to success. “We have a Knowledgeable crowd.” No, we haven’t.

  7. This blog gets more readable during the transfer window and achieves some fantastic roller coaster moments when read over a season or two. The usual names in the frame, but the opinions vary massively.
    Huth – it’s been interesting to see him go from hero to zero on this blog over the last few weeks. Most posters last season would have been happy to see him go for £2m or less and the most common description for him was ‘permacrock’. If we’ve got £5m or £6m for him I think this is not a bad piece of business.
    Tuncay – has consistently been a hero to our posters, but clearly other clubs are not so sure. A few posters have been amazed at the fee when compared with Delph, but a certain Martin O’Neill (who many would have liked as our manager) had a look at both and decided that Delph was a better option even at a £3m premium. Again, a good piece of business (in for £0, out for £4m or £5m).
    Alves – pretty much everyone on this blog was screaming at the club to sign him, why were we taking so long, we’ll lose him to someone else, get on with it, the infamous capitalised “SIGN ALVES NOW!!” blog. Shows what we know. I’d like him to stay, I think he could do a Huthesque zero to hero transition.
    Yeates and Coyne – the most common response was “is this what we’ve come too”, followed by “totally underwhelmed”, within a few weeks everyone’s happy. Again, I think this was good business.
    Wheater – the idea that Everton might have been prepared to pay more for Huth seems far fetched, but they might test our resolve around Wheater. £7m or £8m would be interesting. If it was me I would be tempted at that price…I don’t share the general acclaim for Wheater, I think he often looks shaky…even this season, I thought he looked a bit dodgy against Sheff Utd.
    Johnson – I think he’ll go this window. This is probably the one piece of business that would do most to damage our promotion chances, but I think he wants to leave…he’s just been smarter about it than Alves, he’s decided to get out on the pitch in August and bang in some goals to make people sit up and take notice.
    Overall I think the club has an improved record in the transfer market in the last 3 years after the money wasted in the Robson and McClaren years which have almost brought the club to the brink.
    There have been some mistakes but which club hasn’t made those. The only truly terrible piece of business I think we have done was Mido. A friend of mine is Egyptian and a Zamalek supporter…he tells me they already want to send him (and his mate Zaki) back to where they came from.
    I’m more inclined to be supportive of the overall financial restructuring of the club. Not before time and hopefully done early enough to avoid too dizzying a fall from grace and allowing us a few years to rebuild bwithout having too far to climb. I’d rather do our rebuilding in division two than division three or four.
    4.

  8. Depressing isn’t it?
    We seem to pay inflated transfer fees and over-the-odds wages to get players to come to the club, and sell at under the odds (or give them away) to get them to leave. If our club were a shop, buying expensively and selling cheaply, we’d have gone out of business already.
    We all recognised some time ago (and I remember AV blogging about it) that the club would have to change its economic model to survive. We couldn’t go on spending more on transfer fees and wages than we had coming into the coffers. We couldn’t spend like millionaires if we were really paupers.
    However, of all the methods that could be employed to sort us out, getting relegated was the worst case scenario. Cutting income in half (in fact maybe it was worse than that) by going down was the OPPOSITE of what was needed to balance the books. Income had to be maintained. By far the best way of being able to make ends meet would have been to stay in the Premier League.
    In that scenario, the cheapest solution in the short term would have been to get rid of the manager when there was sufficient time left last season to allow the new one to avoid relegation. It wouldn’t have needed a Brian Clough or an Alex Ferguson – we would only have had to have won another game or so (and two wins would have left us well safe), beating Stoke say instead of losing there, or WBA, or Hull.
    Equally, the best way of getting out of this situation is to do our best to go straight back up to the Premier League. If we don’t do it this year, it will be much harder next year and probably virtually impossible after that. If we replace some of our better players with inferior ones we will rule promotion out of the equation.
    I had to resist the temptation this evening to throw the radio through the window. Our favourite former bank manager was answering callers to BBC Tees angered by the prospective sale of Huth, now that he is at last fit enough to play regularly, (who “would want to leave to ensure he has a chance to play in the World Cup with Germany next summer”)and Tuncay.
    He suggests that whilst Poggi and Riggott look certain to remain on the injured list for a few months yet, Huth’s place might be taken by Hines, Rhys Williams (a little small for a centre back, whatever his lower-team history though looking promising as a midfielder) or Grounds. Immeasurably weaker, whatever the short term option…..
    If there was a Premier League table of coaching and club management, I suspect last season our league position overstated our proper form by one place. Stoke…Hull… they are now the giants against whom it seems we can no longer compete. I don’t suppose anyone will accept responsibility. If it wasn’t mangement or the players maybe it was the fault entirely of the laundry ladies or the Press?

  9. Thats the whole point AV. Did SG go for unsustainable success ( like Ridsdale at Leeds)? I don’t know the answer to that, but if so is that not just naive?

  10. Bob and Holgate ender seem to have summed things up.
    Huth has had the best (and probably longest) run in the team since he’s been here and put himself in the shop window (a la Viduka everytime it was contract renewal or World Cup selection time), Tuncay was always going and good luck to him.
    We have suitable replacements at the back and Emnes and Lita have frightened every defence they have played against this season.
    Oh yes and I would like to remind you that we are still top of the division. Had a week back in Uk and managed to get to the Scunny and Donny games. Great atmosphere at Scunny – like being back in the Holgate at Ayresome Park.
    Come on Boro.

  11. The normally reliable Daily Mail has a story that Everton had a £6m bid for Wheater turned down by Boro – surely if he is to go (and i hope he doesn’t) then he would be in the £16m plus bracket. He is as good as Lescott who went for £22m.
    Does the teams Barnsley, Bradford, Charlton, Leeds, Forest, Norwich and Ipswich mirror what is going to happen to Boro? Once decent top flight teams now scrapping away in the lower leagues….sad days ahead for the Boro I fear.

  12. Sorry AV but the Evening Gazette’s attempts to keep in with the Boro are backfiring big style. Gibbo’s relegation MASTER PLAN is dawning on even the most hardened Boro fan.
    The Gazette plastered the fact that Gibbo had reduced the clubs debt to a manageable figure. In doing so they showed they are happy to talk about the clubs finances when it suits. The fact is everyone and his brother knows the Hotel & Golf complex are draining the clubs resources.
    So far Downing £12m, Huth £6m, Tuncay £5m and probably Alves £6m: total £29m BUT don’t forget the parachute payment designed to help relegated clubs pay their stars for a year. Estimated £25m. Total income £54m, total outgoings = crumbs.
    The fans know where the money is going its just the Gazette won’t have it because they don’t want to upset Gibbo. This has been the master plan of the club for three years, Why else keep a totally incompetent manager at the helm unless he is doing what you wnat him to do i.e. Get Relgated in order to bring in income. Gibbo and Lamb have got what they wanted.
    **AV writes: I understand people are angry and frustrated over what has happened since Eindhoven, about relegation and about the club’s current state of pathetic and powerless impoverished victimhood and rightly so….
    But are you seriously suggesting Gibson had a three year plan to get the club relegated just to sell off players? Did he manipulate the world banking crisis to create the right conditions? Did he tell Stewie to miss the penalty at Sunderland or linesman to flag Tuncay at Blackburn? Besides, why not just sell them in the Premiership? Why not sell Downing and O’Neil in January when the money was there? Why splash out £12.7 on Alves?
    The fans should know where the money is going… it is going into the black hole of debt created by spending over the odds on fees and wages for 15 years. The Gazette are not covering up that fact. If anything we have been accused by the club over over emphasing it and giving the impression we are a selling club.
    I think there are enough real reasons to be angry at Boro without making more up.

  13. I’ve been trying to do the sums to work out the loss of income that has to be managed by Boro because of relegation.
    PL clubs receive £30m plus £750k is awarded per finishing place – If we assume that we budgeted for finishing 14th (our average) that would give a figure of about £35m as expected income.
    In the Championship we will receive £11m parachute payment plus around £3m from TV income.
    This gives us a shortfall of £21m plus we’ll probably get a hit on gate receipts, which I’ll estimate as £4m – So we’re looking at operating with £25m less this season.
    If we remove Downing, Alves, Tuncay, Mido and Huth from the wage bill then (if they avergage £50k a week in wages) we’ll save £15m.
    Money received from these transfers is probably £12m (Downing), £11m (Huth & Tuncay), £5m? (Alves) and £0 for Mido – however, there are probably ‘loyalty’ payments to pay to these players which is probably around £5m – this gives a total transfer income of around £23m (although these are not payable in single instalments, neither are the fees we paid for them recently).
    So I make that a total of £38m recouped against a loss of income of £25m, which gives us £13m this season to spend on new players and their wages, plus putting money towards any debt we currently have.
    Hopefully Steve Gibson thinks that is enough to fund a promotion push and we don’t need to sell anyone else – we should also expect to see 3-4 new faces on that budget.
    **AV writes: I think you are in the right area with those figures but there are some other numbers to throw in too.
    There are outgoing slices of past transfer fees (mainly another clunk of Alves but also Hoyte, Emnes, Digard ) but they have to be balanced against incoming ones (instalment from the Young and Cattermole deals) which by my reckoning will be a small deficit.
    Plus there are interest charges on loans from the banks. In the last set of figures I saw the club had paid £6m in that year and even after restructuring the debt I can’t see it being less this time around.
    Plus there are all the day-to-day costs of running the club, the training complex, the academy, the community projects. There have been cuts in all those areas but itis still effectively a Premier League structure. I can’t see you getting much change out of £2m on that side.
    The hotel and golf course development is NOT being paid for from money that has come from the football club budget – we have been personally guaranteed swear down dead several times by Gibson himself on that. It is ring fenced cash from an investment arm of the empire and that money can’t be diverted into the club (or anywhere else) without major tax implications.

  14. Yes no doubt there are other outgoings that I’ve overlooked but it certainly refutes the notion that relegation was part of some master plan.
    The reality of Championship finances are a sobering thought and we’d see more of the same if we fail to get promoted.
    What I should add is that we’ve probably already spent £3-4m getting in Lita, Yeates and Coyne and paying their wages. So if we fail to sell either Tuncay or Alves then we’d lose about £8m and would effectively have no budget to bring any more players in (unless Gibson digs deep into his pockets).
    I fear if we don’t see some movement soon, it could well lead to either Wheater or Johnson being sold in order to offset this potential loss and fund some replacements – though I don’t think this will prove palatable to 99% of supporters.

  15. So let me get this straight. In search of goals and height Boro are offloading a Brazilian who is over six feet with a goal ratio of 1 in 4 for a lad who is 5, 9 and prolific to the tune of 1 in 5.
    I am 5,9 and noone has ever asked me to be a target man. The only person who values my height is my girlfriend who can’t reach things in the house.
    We really do live in a “throw away society”. My Mam would have knacked me for wasting an Afonso Alves. She would have said something along the lines of: “You begged to get him, paid a fortune and hardly played him”. She would probably suggest taking him out of his box, applying a bit of soft soap and maybe some light weight training.
    It may be too late for GS to get him in a headlock, run his knuckles over his head and tell him that he still loves him but this must have been possible at some point. He has a better goal ratio in the Prem than Webber has in the Championship.
    People might now refer me to the his draining wages. However, ponder this: we are about to sell him for £3 million. If he stayed he WOULD definitely get a minimum of 18-19 goals in this league – come on, some of the teams we have played have been poor, he would. Football is ephemeral by nature and a free scoring Alves would add a couple of million to his value in no time – this would pay for his wages.
    All going well we would be heading back to the Premiership with a bubbling striker with his tail up or at worse a Championship talisman that would be worth a few quid to aspiring teams. People might claim he does not have the physique – Emnes is hardly Bronson is he? We’ve given up to easy on this fella I’m sure and this is emphasised by the replacement strategy.

  16. Most of what i read here is fair enough but i think what frustrates most of us is Boro never tell it as it is. All the rants of not having to sell this year and making the squad stronger have not been countered.
    The truth hurts and yes AV things have maybe got worse since May.Then somebody should have come out and said we are flat broke we have no money to buy players and there might not be any money available to replace outgoing players under the present conditions. Having been a Boro fan for 35 years i think 90% of us would have been more understanding and rally to the cause.
    Yes it may have reduced season ticket sales but at least the fans attending would know and support whats happening. But now you have 20 thou + supporters who feel let down.
    Most of the transfers up to now we knew would probably go. Huth has had his best start for the club since signing and to top it all Gareth makes him Captain he must have known there was a chance he was going to go why on earth make him Captain.
    AV had my say it stinks and will continue to do so until somebody at the top says we got it wrong we need you the fans to help us get it right again without false promises.
    **AV writes: I said similar things on BBC Radio Brownlee last night – that fans were big enough and knowledgeable enough to understand the financial situation if only the club trusted us enough to come out and explain exactly where we are and why and exactly what they need to do in order to restore stability and a sense of hope.
    The problem is that so long as that black void of ignorance exists it allows misinformation, rumour, half-truth and panic to stew and fester and it adds to a growing estrangement between the club and supporters.
    I think itis time for some straight talking. As it is now it is people like me who are taking the flak from frustrating fans for trying to make sense of the situation while the club are shrouded in a brooding silence.

  17. I was very sad to see Huth go – yesterday. But we have plenty of cover there. Poggy, Riggott, Hines and a certain Mr Williams to name a few. To loose Huth is minor than loosing Woodgate (who? The Marton born centre back who is out injured at Spurs now).
    I will miss Tunny, though. A long time. Even though we all knew he was going to go. But I dreamed that nobody wouldn’t want him….
    I agree with Werdermouth and AV that the salaries need to paid as well as past spending. Lita is OK, we still have Emnes etc. GS has told he will buy a replacemnet for Tunny and we can still end up having Alves, too.
    Our team is top of the C’hip and we will get one new striker and – hopefully – one more midfielder. Especially if Shawky leaves (where he is – except in Egypt next week for an international).
    Let’s cool down – we still have Wheater, Johnson, Williams, Emnes, Digards, McMahon, Grounds, Yeates etc. We lead the division and are live. Not all football team will survive the recession as we will. Even the big four are in trouble already or soon – they are living on borrowed money.
    Up the Boro!

  18. Southgate taking over was just one indication that the the club’s priorities had changed, and we did have the Keith Lamb warning from way back.
    ‘Keep our premiership status at all costs’ had been replaced by ‘get the debt down and cut the wage bill’. I really don’t think that SG had a lot of choice in the matter due to the outside factors of finance affecting everyone and the failed big money transfer chickens coming home to roost.
    From the start of last season the situation had obviously got worse and it just looked to me that the club was being ‘set up’ for the championship.
    Relegation was not intentional, but it was an inevitable risk being run because of the new priorities that had been forced on the club.
    However, relegation also happened due to the fact that we had a manager that could not get the best out of the players he had. If we’d had an Alladyce, a Bruce or a Souness I honestly don’t think we’d have gone down. But we didn’t and here we are in a worse position trying to make ends meet.
    The fact is in my view, the club just couldn’t afford to carry the cost of players that would keep us in the premiership. Equally, I don’t think the club can afford to carry the cost of players that will get us promotion.
    This may all change in the future if the financial position improves for whatever reason, but for now and I fear for the next few seasons our football will be up and down in the championship with the odd promotion/promotion push. You know, what life used to be like before Steve Gibson put in his millions.
    There may be other departures after Huth and Tuncay. Wheater will go if a big enough offer comes in, so will Johnston and the same applies to everyone else.
    I am just going to put my feet up at the Riverside (there’s plenty of room) and try to enjoy what wins and goals come along from whoever arrives. Whether you go to games or stay at home it’s just the same.
    WE ARE STUCK WITH IT.

  19. There is a lot of talk today about wages. Many posters have bemoaned the fact that some of our soon to be/recently departed star players, are/were still draining the clubs resources to the tune of 50K (Huth) or 65K (Tuncay) per week.
    It has to be acknowledged that these “65K per week” contracts are made up of various incentives. To receive the top whack, a player would need a goal scoring bonus, win bonus & a payment based on the team’s league position. Taking all that into account, I would guess it has been a long while since Tuncay saw 65 grand deposited into his bank account in one payment. Indeed, those regular last minute opposition equalisers may have cost the club it’s PL place in the long term, but they saved the count a packet in win bonuses !
    A lot of fuss was made of the fact that the people who drew up the contracts at Newcastle, arrogantly neglected to include any relegation clauses. It has been written that the Boro hierarchy did not make the same expensive error.
    If that is the case, it could be another reason why Huth, Tuncay, Downing etc have decided to head for the lifeboat. After all, their other halves have no doubt been reduced to shopping at Lidl since our relegation ! No doubt 10% of their fee as a signing-on bonus will have offered further incentive.
    Do you know if I am right in my belief that relegation clauses were inserted into the contracts of the majority of our playing staff AV ?
    It looks like the next few days will prove the biggest test of the managers prowess so far. Having thoroughly deflated the fans with these sales, it is now up to him to raise the spirits again, with a couple of shrewd acquisitions to replace those players the club has allowed to leave.
    On a personal note, my anger is not because of the departures as such, with Tuncay always guaranteed to leave & Huth probable. It is with the apparent impotence in replacing these quality players. It is blatantly obvious that a big centre forward & a decent quality midfielder are desperately needed to maintain any promotion push, at a minimum. Webber & Balde are neither of these things. If the manager believes that yet another lightweight, pacy forward like Webber is what is required, then he is proving his (many) detractors to be correct.
    The mood around the Riverside CAN be lifted, but the triumvirate need to step up to the mark quickly & decisively. Two or three reasonably inspiring signings (we’re not asking for Ribery or Aguero!) would be enough to get the fans back onside.
    If this does not happen, I do not believe the fans will be flocking to the Riverside & paying out good money to watch a side they have little faith in. Surely the hierarchy at the club must be aware that doing this would increase their revenue stream in terms of increased season card/matchday ticket sales ?

  20. I heard we have a bid of £4.5m for Earnshaw from Forest. WHAT! £5m for Tuncay £4.5m Earnshaw, what a joke, I just hope its not true as Mr Lamb wants sacking for this type of business.
    **AV writes: We have been told categorically from both ends that there is no truth whatsoever in the story.

  21. AV – if you look carefully at the Zapruder film, Steve Gibson can be seen on the Grassy Knoll. I think Gibbo killed Kennedy too.
    There is an element on this blog that are so ungrateful it beggers belief.
    “They’re only memories”? – yeah, just memeories of some of the best days in Boro history. Why bother aiming for cup finals or the Premier league in the future as all it will leave us with are memories…
    Steve Gibson is not beyond criticsim, nobody should be, but the crass jibes are hard to digest.

  22. Just when you think it cant get any worse our illustrious Manager said whats happened with Huth is the same as what happened with Luke young and look what happened we beat Spurs.
    If i remember correctly Spurs were rock bottom then and the sale infuriated the fans and he wasnt even the Captain trust Gareth to bring that one back up

  23. AV,
    Are you sure there is no legs in this story about Earnshaw?
    ————————
    Forest Accept Bid For Earnshaw
    Nottingham Forest striker Robert Earnshaw looks set to exit the City Ground, as the club accept an offer believed to be from Middlesbrough for £4.5m.
    Earnshaw signed for the Reds’ from Derby last season in a £2.65m deal. He finished the season as the clubs top scorer with 17 goals, despite an injury plagued campaign.
    The information we have, is that he isn’t entirely happy with the move, as he is settled in Nottingham. Middlesbrough are after a swift return to the Premiership and are keen to get their hands on the best striker in the Championship. Forest though, will spend the money on a replacement, despite having 5 other strikers to pick from.
    Boro are flush with cash at the moment, following the £5m sale of Huth to Stoke and will be even better off when the sale of Tuncay for a similar fee to the Potters is completed.
    ———————–
    Fingers crossed someone has put 2 and 2 together and done a Keith Lamb to get 1.
    Could be Beford or Nugent
    **AV writes: We asked the Forest lads about Earnshaw on Tuesday because it had been in the Sunday Sun. They had been at the presser where the question had been raised and said Billy Davies said publicly there had been an inquiry from one of the relegated Premier League clubs. When pressed later by the locals in a separate huddle he told them it was from Newcastle.
    Southgate has also been asked about it and dismissed it completely as not being the kind of player they were looking at.

  24. Boy it’s getting heated on here – not your fault AV so you shouldn’t be getting any of the flak.
    The club’s financial security and continued existence is the only thing that counts, or at least it should be. Everything else is immaterial. Going into administration would dock enough points from us to be automatically dropped into League 1 – getting out of the Championship is going to be hard enough so if drastic cuts are needed it has to be done fast.
    We might not like players being sold but that’s the new reality, the disappointing aspect is the poor prices being generated.
    A front page open letter to the club from the Gazette for some clarity is in order. You called for this when Alves was a couple of days late.
    SG asked us to trust him and in general we have but if things have changed he I would like to think that he would be inclined to communicate the new situation.
    We shall overcome, been there got the t-shirt, done it once, we can do it again !

  25. If GS is given money to spend who is confident that he will buy anyone decent?
    Players bought during GSs tenure include
    GON 5m
    Mido 6m
    Digard 4m
    Ali 2m
    Emnes 3.2m
    Alves 12.7m
    Huth 6m
    Shawky .65m
    Tuncay no fee
    Arca 1.75m
    Total 41.2m
    If GS has not been buying the players as if often mooted, then Lamb should take the blame. Who on the above list have really earned they wages whikst playing for MFC? If it is GS who has bought the players then that is possibly the reason why SG is unwilling to give him much money to spend?
    C’Mon Boro!

  26. “Even the big four are in trouble already or soon – they are living on borrowed money.”
    Sorry, but I disagree. So long as the Big Four keep getting their money from the Rich Clubs Runners-Up League And Cup (because that’s what the Champions League really is) they’ll never really be in trouble.
    Since Italia ’90, football has become more and more of a money and image driven marketing bonanza, with the big teams getting bigger and the small teams getting smaller.
    “When Gazza cried, football died”, lots of people say, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. If football hadn’t gained the additional exposure that it had post that semi-final, then I may never have been converted into a fan. If Boro hadn’t been forced to upgrade to an all-seater, then decided to try and compete with the big boys, then I may never have hopped on board the Boro bandwagon…
    I think you see where this is going now.
    I’m not ungrateful for the money Sky pumped at football. It just sickens me that the gap is now so far between the big four (or is it five now because of City) and the rest that no one else can really compete for a Champions League spot.
    I mean, there was a nice balance in the early mid-90’s. Teams such as Newcastle could come up from the lower leagues and compete at the top, Villa could be in trouble one season then build a new team and enter Europe the next… nowadays can you see that happening?
    Or am I just being biased, longing for the days when Barmby, Ravanelli, TLF and Merse walked into the Riverside, and the ground was full every week?
    Take your pick.
    You see what has happened to the likes of Leeds, Charlton and Southampton, not to mention Sheffield Wednesday. All off to the abyss, never to return, and I fear that if Wheater and Johnson go too we’re going to suffer the same fate.
    I guess I’m just finding it hard to control my anger. The moment I dared to enjoy being a Boro fan again, we go and lose to Forest and then lose two key players.
    Some promotion campaign this is turning out to be…

  27. Tees Exile:
    If we don’t have a knowledgeable crowd it’s because you and the other ‘ostriches in their rose coloured spectacles’ are dragging down the IQ average.
    The fans are last people to blame -we are well supported club with patient fans (Southgate 3 years !). Nearly 23,000 fans for a Friday night game after the season we have just had is marvelous. If football was real market driven economy there would have been 500 present (i.e. those with nothing to live for)
    What does it take to convince you we are in very serious trouble ?
    Never mind blathering on about ‘whingeing fans” inferring that they are responsible for the appalling decisions over the last 3 years just give me 3 ‘reasons to be cheerful’
    The immature posturing of Southgate & Gibson is embarrasing. Southgate insists he “wont walk away from the problem….” Gibson insists “he’ll stick by his decision ….” Both are examples of weak and selfish behaviour.
    Making out that the fans are culpable is feeble. Middlesbrough fans are too decent and too soft.

  28. Nice you have updated you column, AV (see above, all).
    We don’t see how spoiled we were in the PL by SG. See an opinion from Stoke supporter’s link (provided by AV above): “When Tuncay puts pen to paper, will be the most ambitious signing we’ve made during my lifetime. Great days!” ST, Stoke
    It’s like Juninho time for them! I agree with AV , though. How does Tunny fit in their long ball style???
    Eventhough we are in C’ship, up the Boro!

  29. Looking on the bright side at least we don’t have to find out that Lawro has tipped us to get beat on the BBC website

  30. Si, the BBC reported today that Uefa president Michel Platini has vowed to introduce measures that will make clubs “live within their means”. “But if a club gets a lot of money or subsidies from a big backer and is still in deficit in two years then it is a problem and we don’t want that.”
    “Premier League club Chelsea reported losses of £65.7m up to June last year, while Red Football, Manchester United’s parent company which is owned by the Glazer family, recorded a £21m loss last year to increase their total debt to £575m.”
    It cannot continue for ever – someday they must pay the loans back!

  31. Southgate said: “We know that Robert was a big, big player for us, but it’s a temporary thing as far as I am concerned. In any case we lost Luke Young three days before last season started, played David Wheater at right-back and beat Spurs. We have a lot of character in the dressing room.”
    I hang my head in my hands sometimes when i hear that our manager has dropped yet another clanger, said another faux pas or just completely lost the plot. Tottenham was one game, one out of 38 in a season which was disastrous and ended up with us being relegated.
    Ultimately Gareth you have to ask yourself did the sale of Luke Young coupled with the purchase of Justin Hoyte as his replacement aid or hinder our squad?
    Judging by the fact we were relegated the answer seems to me to be startlingly obvious. Even if we beat Bristol City which i hope we do, our squad is far, far weaker than it was only 3 days ago. That is plain for all to see, and will, if not addressed make results start to falter.
    This is worrying because i wonder if the quality players such as the David Wheaters or Adam Johnsons of this world will be happy to watch their team sell off its best players while they are asked to play alongside players, with all due respect, who are not in the same league.

  32. I’ve been away so it is good to come back to such a well developed debate but why there should be quite so much despair and disagreement with your excellent summary of affairs is beyond me.
    I think the time has come to celebrate the fact that there has eventually been someone prepared to make an offer for at least two of our “want aways”. The fact that none of the big clubs thought that any one of our players (including the “ever present” Downing) were worth a place on their benches goes a long way to explain why we got relegated and may serve as a wake-up call to those that are left – that is if they have ambition.
    Of course, subject to their attitude, I would have preferred Huth and Tuncay to stay, and we may well have got more in January, but “a bird in the hand” always influences such decisions, particularly when the threat of injury looms.
    If Huth (weak against Premiership pace) had gone for £6m in June there would barely have been a whisper. Persuading Tuncay to stay was clearly not an option. Perhaps he could have flourished in a top team but I suspect the statistics showed that he lacks positional sense and is wasteful in possession.
    As fans we cannot begin to understand how a club may value a player but as with all such matters they are only worth what someone will pay and to use other deals (ala Lescott) as benchmarks is unrealistic.
    Let’s just be grateful for the fact we have had a good start, that this looks like being a competitive league, that the debt burden is reduced, that we have some great young talent and that the players brought in so far look up to the job.
    This season was always going to be as much about how we dealt with the setbacks as anything else and I am entirely confident the SG will cope with these challenges as he has in the past.

  33. First things first. This wasn’t Gareth’s decision, and there is no question that if he could have held on to Huth he would have done. He is simply balancing the books as per instructions from Gibson/Lamb, and I suspect the fact that Huth has been sold suggests a deal to sell Alves will not happen.
    Fees not great for either player, but it remains to be seen how many games Huth will play in PL this year given his injury record, and if Tuncay was really that good, where was he when we were so desperately struggling for goals vs. West Brom, Wigan, Blackburn etc. at the Riverside last year.
    Back to Alves. If he doesn’t leave, lets get behind him 100%. He could be sensational at this level.

  34. Gutted that Huth has gone. I just hope that this ain’t the start of a very depressing few days. I loved Tuncays attitude ( most of the time), but come on, he was nothing special at all. I noticed no big, or even slightly big clubs came in for him.

  35. I agree with the assertion that the silence from the clubs senior management regarding the real financial position is causing a huge amount of unnecessary damage.
    Steve Gibson has many strengths, his biggest weakness is that he is a poor communicator where his clubs fans are concerned.

  36. Tuncay was probably struggling to get a pass off the five centre-backs we had in the team, against Wigan/Blackburn, When we just made 0-0, a win against them would have kept us in the PL.

  37. I agree with Andy, I think Alves will come good but we need to play him and we need to get behind him.
    He’s been one of the most prolific goal scorers around Europe so we need to find a way of repeating this. We’ve paid a lot of money for him so we need to start getting some value back. This league is the kind of levels he’s played in and done well in. He’ll get more space and the quality of defenders and goalkeepers are not the same as in the PL.
    To be honest he didn’t achieve anything like we expected from him last year, but we played poorly and created few chances, he had some bad luck, his confidence suffered, he scored then was dropped by poor management and team selection did not help. Take a look back, how many times did a keeper come up with a great save or he hit the woodwork. Yes missed a few but at least he was on the end of them. He should have been taking the penalties when Stewie missed two in a row.
    Give the guy a break, we’ve had an awful lot worse strikers here than Alves. Billy Ashcroft, David Mills – both mentioned here earlier spring to mind. I saw them both and they were both hopeless.
    In Millies case he had a team that carried him along with Hickton and Foggon to play off, and a terrific midfield that included Armstrong, Souness. Yes he scored goals but he should have been scoring 30-40 a year with the chances he had and I’ve never seen a player trip over the ball more than he ever did. He didn’t have a first, second or third good touch but he was fast enough to get in positions enough of the time to make it count. How good he really was was shown up when he was sold to West Brom than disappeared into obscurity.
    Ashcroft was big, slow and the only one threatened was the local barber and if he hadn’t been related to John Neal he wouldn’t have been signed, Charlie Amer must have choked on his cigar having to write a cheque out for 135K or whatever it was at the time, then we found just how bad Ashcroft was and how soft he was for his size, couldn’t punch his way out of the preverbial paper bag.
    So let’s get behind the team, let’s get behind Alves, Bloody hell, how many of us wish we had a Brazilian centre forward available in the past who had a scoring record like this ? He needs the ball in front of him and someone to play off.
    It’s not the players that are the problem at this club it’s the manager and coaches not getting enough from the players they have had at their disposal backed by some poor decision making in the transfer market for the past three years and from what I can now make out poor commercial negotiations on salary packages.
    In any normal business the person or persons responsible for this would be long gone in this business it means the manager and the CEO, not the physio or the assistant manager.

  38. Well, boys and girls, this is where it gets interesting. A potentially tricky away game at Bristol which might be a useful guide at to our prospects of promotion this season.
    The really interesting part is whether now, having broken up the Wheater/Huth partnership at the back, our defence will still look strong. We were beginning to look like misers at the back but if, for the sake of the sale price and the reduction of the wage bill, we fail to get the promotion that was beginning to look a possibility, the sale could cost us much more than we made from it.
    Another thing is that we will be facing the same Nicky Maynard I was suggesting as a possible signing a couple of years ago when he was at Crewe. Of course he has had injuries since then but my guess is he will be prolific at this level (and maybe higher) at a tiny fraction of £12.7M.
    Anyway AV, do club scouts etc get some sort of incentive payment, or bonus, if we buy a player they have scouted or recommended? Would they get a small percentage? For example if we bought a player for, say £6M would the scout get maybe 1% (actually that would be £60K, but even half a percent or a quarter would be quite handy, particularly for a £12.7M purchase!). It might be an incentive to buy expensive “stars” rather than hunting the lower leagues…..
    I am pleased to hear Wheater has been appointed captain at Bristol. Although he may have a lot still to learn, there can be no doubt where his heart lies, which isn’t something one can say about all the players on the payroll.
    Fingers crossed for a 0-1 win in the South West.

  39. “I’ve lost Robert Huth and Tuncay to Stoke City and more could be going, and it doesn’t look as if I’ll have money to spend.”
    So says the Gate after we witnessed another “Jagielka moment” today.
    Who next for the door then? Wheater? Jinky?
    All our class. Gone.
    Grim, grim, grim…

  40. Just got back from Bristol City and the day spoiled, not only by the two soft goals from shocking defending (although our defender was outmuscled badly for 1st goal the finish was amazing admittedly) but from the scum element of our fans.
    I got to Bristol about 11, went to some bars, had some drinks, sang some songs, enjoying myself. Went over to ground at two, wandered around ground went in bout 2:20 and got a seat. EVERYBODY who bought a ticket was told that there was no reserved seating and pillars causing restricted views so to get early to avoid them. IS THIS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND?.
    Five mins into game group of fans, typical ratbags with shaven heads, dumb look across the faces, come in bladdered, and with the only seats available been behind pillar now start standing in gangway to see but with the alcohol affecting them generally taking it in turns to fall over onto people.
    Steward asks them to sit down as blocking peoples views by standing in gangway only to met by abuse asking why they should sit behind pillar. They were stood right next to me and slurred speech, spitting and clothes stinking of not been washed in weeks, sick and booze really is not nice to be next to.
    They then spend the rest of first half trying to start of a “All the geordies are crying, Bobby Robson is dying” chant, Nice of them, and taking turns at shouting abuse for no apparent reason.
    Why travel 5/6 hours to a place and get so ratted you won’t remember game or even know your there? Why moan about having rubbish seats to people despite it been your fault you wanted another pint in the pub? Why disgust people with your stinking bodies?
    Everyone loves a good away day, having a few bevvies but trust me when i say these went too far and just ratbags?

  41. Addendum:
    If there’s any justice, Alves should be made to play. Made to pay.
    His finishing, or lack of it, got us into this mess – now let’s use him to get us out of it!

  42. Well, that 2-1 loss just goes to show that if you really want the wheels to come off, sell one of your greatest assets in the immovable object that is Huth.
    Coupled with the Forest result in the week, it’s clear that he will be badly missed by a team which could have carried an invincible tag well into the winter months.
    If Aliadiere had tucked away his two gilt-edged chances in both games, things would be an awful lot different but it just underpins how woefully inept we are when it comes to our finishing which in all honesty has been a major downfall for quite some time now.
    That said, AJ’s a goalscoring machine right now and sadly, I can see him being snapped up by a Premier League club.
    Quick someone, we need a paddle!

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