DEADLINE day. And what a rip off – a 5pm finish! Office hours? What’s all that about? I love the late night drama of midnight, the anxiety, wishful thinking and heightened sensations of sleep deprivation and alcohol. Airport watch. Text detectives staking out all approaches to the training ground. Getting the beers in and settling down to watch David Craig get hysterical or soaking outside Hurworth while the lights in Lambie’s office burn out deep into the night as a beacon of hope.
Today though in the cold harsh light of day we can expect the quietest deadline day since the January when the only signing was the emphemaral Ricardinho, the man who wasn’t there. Or at least, we hope for the quietest day. We don’t want any surprises because that will almost certainly be bad news.
What we know so far is that Alves is in Qatar talking over his big money semi-retirement in an low level exhibition league, a move that reveals a lack of competitive mentality that perhaps goes some way to explaining his apathetic performances last season.
We know also that his exit for what is reported as a ÃÂ£7m fee will further appease the banks and release a bit of cash for Gareth Southgate to spend, and more importantly free up some space on the wage bill to bring in players. If Alves is on ÃÂ£50k a week and can be shipped out then Boro could bring one key player (Rob Hulse) on ÃÂ£15k or so and maybe two more on ÃÂ£5k (Webber and Hughes) …. or ÃÂ£20k for Hulse plus one other…. and still be able to lop another ÃÂ£1m off the annual wage bill. Good housekeeping.
We know also the club remain under pressure from the banks to reduce the overdraft and that a “silly money” offer for one of the crown jewels will have to be seriously considered with the political and excomic implications very carefully weighed up.
The possible domestic implications of selling David Wheater for instance are unthinkable: the Redcar Rock is the new Mogga, the skipper, an icon, a local lad burning with desire and pride to play for the club and who does not want to leave. Selling Wheater would be a huge PR own goal and cause a massive backlash. It would be impossible to sell as anything other than straight forward asset stripping
A big offer for Adam Johnson though would be a far tougher call. He has been an electric presence on the pitch this season, is the top scorer and is essential to Boro’s promotion hopes – but he is out of contract next summer. He has not signed the new deal he has been offered. He can talk to clubs in Jnauary and could leave on a free at the end of the season with only a negligable “development fee” coming back into the coffers. A big offer – ÃÂ£5m say – would be very tempting financially but would send out a frightening and unequivocal message to the fans: short term number crunching is more important than going up at the first attempt.
So here’s to a quiet day. Some good news, Aston Villa seem to have bought their full quota of defenders and Spurs have midfielders coming out of their ears so potential moves for Wheats and Jonno there are all but dead. And Stoke and Sunderland must have spent up by now, Everton are still a worry though. They have money and gap at the back and have spent a lot of time watching Boro lately.
Watch this space….
1pm Some good rumours going around cyber space….
Someone who knows someone says Jermaine Beckford is at Hurworth talking over a ÃÂ£2m move from Leeds while Rob Hulse is also signing (although he is reportedly in Spain preparing to play a friendly for Derby tonight) for ÃÂ£2.5m plus add-ons.
Meanwhile Justin Hoyte is said to be en route to Hull for ÃÂ£1m plus with a suggestion that Brian Hughes may be thrown in to make the numbers add up and Jeremie Aliadiere is said to be a ÃÂ£1.5m target for Fulham.
Another one suggests Boro have been offered left sided midfielder Kris Commons by Derby and a clearly mischievous suggestion that Adam Johnson is set for a ÃÂ£9m move to his local club Sunderland has crossed over from Boro message boards to Mackem ones and caused a bit of a flurry of triumphalism there.
And a frequent flyer on FMTTM suggests Dutch midfielder Lex Immers (no, me neither) has arrived at Teesside Airport on the red eye.
Other internet rumours/guesses/hoaxes…. long-haired Argie hitman Becchio from Leeds, non-scoring striker Lee McCullogh from Rangers, Akos Buszaky from QPR, Delfoaunso from Aston Villa, former trialist Matic on loan from Chelsea, Amr Zaki from Zamalek in a tit-for-tat ‘we took your troublesome heavyweight Egyptian ego, you take ours’ loan swap … at this rate we’ll soon have the biggest squad in the Championship.
As yet none of these have been confirmed by the obligatory sighting tucking into a parmo with Lambie at the Tontine.
3pm… permanently excited David Craig has just recapped the merry-go-round latest from the North-east. He reports loads of activity from Sunderland – Leadbitter and Edwards to ‘Roy Keane’s Ipswich’, Collins to Stoke – and hints of action at Newcastle with Loverkrands and some unspecified others poised to take medicals…. but nothing about Boro. Doesn’t he read FMTTM?
3.30pm… SSN understands that the Alves deal has hit a snag. That could mean everything else in the pipeline – if there is anything else – is off. Oh dear. If only the goal machine himself had thrown that spanner in the works, then he’d have missed.
The suggestion is that the Qatari deadline isn’t for another two weeks yet and the prospective buyers Al Saad “are in no rush” to conclude the deal. The snag of course could just be brinkmanship. The Arabs will know Boro are desperate and may calculate that at 4.55pm Boro may take ÃÂ£6m or even ÃÂ£5m instead of ÃÂ£7m. Hasn’t Lambie seen Life of Brian. “You’re supposed to haggle!”
4.30pm….. *whistles casually*
5pm…. well there goes the bongs on Big Ben. Nothing. Boring. No Hulse incoming – not that the prospect was ever exciting but it would have at least shown willing – although Alves could still leave in the next fortnight to Qatar and the door is still open for frees and loans after the deadline. Webber it is then.