Summer Silence: Ringing The Changes

IT’S quiet out there. Too quiet. Soon enough all hell will break loose in torrid take-no-prisoners, bargain-basement wheeler-dealing but for now we must wait. Patiently.
It’s football’s Phoney War.


Blase Boro fans have been spoiled by far too many cash-rich summers of speculation with substance and by our so often productive squared-eyed Sky Sports vigils, pupils locked onto the teasing yellow scrolling bar of plenty with the intensity and belief of a South Pacific cargo cult.
Evidence of fruitful years past has shown that if we all watch the screen long enough then eventually a manical David Craig will magically pop up with a frenzied car-park confirmation of a sensational star signing.
We have grown used to staking out Teesside Airport for incoming household names and scouring the Tontine car park for flash motors with number plates boasting M3551 or OW3N or, of late, as we lowered our sights CH09RA.
Even last year when we were already well down the road of “cutting our cloth” and downsizing the cost-base in the harsh new financial reality of the Championship, even then we were by this stage of the summer gleefully out and about on a confident Strachanovite spending spree, successfully working down Wee Gordon’s list of targets with a selection of irons in the fire and the smithy working full pelt on the bellows .
Now though we must get used to the new prudent reality. And the stubborn summer inactivity. And the quiet. The quiet.
At Hurworth the phone has been ringing out sporadically fracturing the eerie silence. Manager Tony Mowbray is away and doesn’t expect anything much to happen until he gets back with his Costas tan.
“Hello, you have reached Middlesbrough Football Club. Unfortunately there is no-one to take your call right now but if you are an agent selling a footballer leave your message after the Power Game tone and we’ll get back you in July.
“If you are an agent buying a footballer you can reach us 24 hours a day by phone, pager, fax or e-mail on… ”
That is the reality. If anyone wants to buy a Boro player then we are open for business (please feel free, come in and browse) and we will be readily availble to listen to the offer and work out the maths – but anyone selling will have to come back later. There will be a lot of agents and managers leaving messages that will go unanswered.
The basic landscape is this: there are unlikely to be any ins until there are outs. And there are unlikely top be any outs until the new football calendar clicks over on July 1st.
Then, when the new contractual year begins, the departure from the wage bill – or at least a vastly downsized commitment to if both opt to take much reduced wages – Julio Arca and Andrew Taylor may free the log jam and allow some movement.
But even then the entire strategy will be based on the hope that some of the big earners – we all know the names off pat by now – can be moved on quickly and cleanly in time to reinvest and reshuffle. It is like the stagnant summer when we had the brooding presence of Mido and Afonso in the departure lounge holding up all movement.
Of course it hasn’t been all tumbleweed so far. But the two transfer tit-bits to surface last week were instructive. The stories were both agent driven and they showed something about belt-tightening Boro’s new recruitment policy.
First Dutch flanker-forward Anouar Hadouir was revealed to have had productive preliminary talks with Mogga at Hurworth last month and been mightily impressed with both the set up and the gaffer’s vision. Who wouldn’t be?
His agent told the Gazette the Moroccan-born Roda JC assist king was keen to join Boro.
He is the right sort of player: pacy, suited to breaking down the right flank, versatile and can operate in a four, or a front three, or two, or at a push, one. He is free, eager and would probably come cheap after playing for one of Holland’s provincial makeweights.
A cynic might suggest he could be a ready made replacement for Swansea target Marvin Emnes, a project that is finally nearing completion.
But Hadouir’s agent also made it unequivocally clear that his client has been told he must wait and that whether any deal is eventually pushed through is entirely dependent on Boro selling players first to free up space on the wage bill.
So the parameters have been set. One in, one out; no room for manoeuvre on the existing pay structure, even for a free transfer on modest money.
The second illustration of where we are as a club came when the Gazette’s sister paper the Sunday Sun revealed that Kieron Dyer’s agent had been “in contact” with Boro to offer the former Newcastle on pitch pugilist and largely under-performing Fancy Dan..
The flamboyant serial crock is a free agent after his bloated £80,000 a week contract with relegated West Ham expired. Deluded Dyer is symptomatic of the kind of player who has got clubs like Boro – and the Hammers – into big trouble. At £6m plus £4m a year in wages he has cost the Hammers £22m – and has played just 30 league games. Ouch.
Now he looking for a club with more money that sense willing to take a chance on his fitness record and it was suggested a convenient move to Teesside could appeal as he still has property in the North East from his time at Newcastle.
Yeah right. We are not that kind of club anymore Kieron. The days of barmy Boro being a retirement home for high-profile hasbeens whose egos are writing cheques their body can’t cash are long gone. Good luck finding another one though.
“Contact has been made with Boro by Dyer’s representatives to see if there is any interest in bringing him to Teesside,” outlined the story, convincing no-one.
Leave your message after the Power Game mate, we’ll get back to you. Eventually. After we’ve all stopped laughing.
*******
MEANWHILE, as you are all twiddling your thumbs, here’s something to while away an hour… a Farewell To Ayresome Park video special hosted on the excellent Middlesbrough Supporters South website. If you’re bored have a poke about, there’s some good old school football footage among their archives.
And here’s a depressing photospread from the 28 Days Later website that archives abandoned Britain… the crumbling overgrown remains of a once proud McCain Stadium.
******
ONE of my regulars rang up today to say he was still buzzing from the end of last season putting a daft tenner on the #mogganaut to steam to the title. A triumph of hope over experience. I’m saying nothing after last years misguided Boro/Southampton promotion double and Kris Boyd for top scorer but if anyone else is so inclined – before a penny is spent in the transfer market – you can get 14s at Bet 365 and William Hills.
*****
COMRADE Teflonov has responded to murmurs of dissent within FIFA’s envelopocracy by setting up the Stalinist sounding “Solutions Committee” that is tipped to include not only Johan Cruyff but also hand-picked experts in global football adminstration and governance Henry Kissenger and Placido Domingo.
Which begs the question, if Boro had a similar triumerate to resolve problems, which former football hero, random tainted politician and light classical/opera singer would we turn too? I’m going for Big Billy Ashcroft, Cecil Parkinson and Suzannah Clark.
*****
DANNY Graham has signed for Swansea for £3.5m (and no, before you ask, there is no sell on fee due to a team that released him the club before last) which keeps the number of Boro academy graduates in the Premier League at a healthy 13.
Graham did not start at Boro as an ankle-biter so some purists may argue that he was not strictly a product of of Hurworth but he was brought in from Chester-le-Street when he was 17 and played for the Academy team before progressing to the first team fringes so he counts for me.
More contentious is maybe Jonathan Hogg at Aston Villa. He came through the system as a schoolkid after joining at the age of nine but was later released as a 15 year old before battling back to earn a trial then a contract at Villa.
One that people may not recognise is Jordan Robinson. The now Wigan Athletic defender was released by Boro as a 17 year old first year pro but knuckled down, worked hard and earned a contract with the Latics.
The list:
Stewart Downing (Aston Villa)
Adam Johnson (Man City)
David Wheater (Bolton)
Chris Brunt (West Brom)
Lee Cattermole (Sunderland)
James Morrison (West Brom)
Brad Jones (Liverpool)
Andrew Davies (Stoke)
Jordan Robinson (Wigan)
Herold Goulon (Blackburn)
Danny Graham (Swansea)
Jonathan Hogg (Aston Villa)
Ross Turnbull (Chelsea)
The end of term relegation’s from the top flight meant we lost Stuart Parnaby and David Murphy (Birmingham) from the list. Enigmatic French midfielder Goulon looks set to depart soon after being told to find a club.

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43 thoughts on “Summer Silence: Ringing The Changes

  1. AV wrote: “£6m plus £4m a year in wages he (Dyer) has cost the Hammers £22m – and has played just 30 league games. Ouch.”
    So Boro aren’t the only team to make mistakes in the transfer market as one expects sometimes by reading this blog. Dyer cost West Ham £733,333 per game.
    Our Alves was here from Jan 2008 to Sept 2009 and cost £ £12.7m in fee and around £5m in wages. He was sold for £7. That makes him “only” a £350,000 per game at Boro. So every manager makes a mistake or two!
    AV, I would be happy to hear the following transfer news though: all the academy kids are staying as well as Bates and McManus. So a very quiet close season will do for me nicely, thank you!
    Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: Newcastle have just told forward/midfielder Alan Smith he can go. He opted for them ahead of Boro and signed for £6m on a five year £60k a week deal. That’s £21m. He has played 82 largely anonymous games over that spell and not scored a single goal. Bullet dodged.

  2. One in, one out? More like one out then we will think about and I am not complaining.
    As one of those those posting a squad rebuild was likely even before Eindhoven, during that awful post Xmas run of league results whether McClaren stayed or went, it is hardly a surprise.
    The waste in between has been appalling. Jarkko mentions Alves being a bargain compared to Dyer. Add Mido, Digard, Folan, King, Dong Gook Lee, Eueulluseless, St Ledger, Hoyte, Emnes, Miller, Boyd, Killen plus sundry others to the list to easily appreciate why we are where we are.
    This is the new reality as we approach the remnant sales.
    I remember the black humour surrounding Leeds United in their slump. A fan went to the ticket office and asked ‘two for £50 please’.
    The response? ‘strikers or defenders?’
    We managed to dodge the bullet last season and can now start rebuilding. A better season than last would be good, play offs great but we shouldnt EXPECT to be there.
    If we just lost six high earners and had six or seven players making 35+ games we would have a decent season.
    Hope springs eternal. Not for the results but for the fitness!

  3. I don’t mind it being all quiet. No movement. No speculation. Even you haven’t written anything for weeks AV and that must be a first. Good for me. I’m off to Majorca for a fortnight on Saturday and I can go in peace knowing I’m not going to miss anything.

  4. I think youre going to see Tony try and get as many players as he can out on loan. I’ve heard Robson to Norwich is one, but the likes of Boyd, Halliday, Hoyte, Digard, Grounds ,Franks ,Miller are the most likely,
    Lita is one we might get money for,
    Coming in, once again the odd loan deal

  5. Ian –
    Alves was not a bargain! But Boro are not the only team to make these mistakes. It’s awful lot of money out of the most beautiful game I am afraid.
    Up the Boro!

  6. Ian Gill’s third paragraph at 12.49pm – *shudder*.
    Dyer on a free and £3K PER APPEARANCE? Only a maybe.
    But on that basis he’d probably only cost us £6K in the first six months before disappearing into the distance. I doubt he’ll trouble the writers of the sports pages much more, despite the best efforts of his agent to drum up some interest. Maybe they should ring up Gateshead to see if they have a vacancy.

  7. The south pacific cargo cult? Did you shoe in that for a bet or were you reading the God delusion on holiday?
    John From the Boro.

  8. £20m for Jordan Henderson?
    That seems a lot of money for a youngster who has only just started his career in a middling Premiership team.
    The world has gone mad, that makes him five times better than Digard and worth Alves and Mido added together.
    But if Bruce can get in a number of good qualitity replacements it make sense. Add in the money for Bent and that makes a great opportumity to rebuild. Does he know about Boyd?
    **AV writes: Yeah, Henderson valued at £13m is crazy….. but on what surreal scale is David N’Gog worth £7m?

  9. AV –
    Just seen your list of Boro graduates and it prompted the song, ‘there’s only two Lee Cattermoles’.
    Doesnt scan properly but neither does ‘he’s two of own,….’
    That aside the list shows just how difficult it is to get youth team players established in to squads never mind first teams at the top level.
    Two or three a season and you are doing well, selling some on to make room in the squad is also part of the process.
    I keep asking the question but what happened to the Panto Villain piece. Have we just airbrushed it from history?
    **AV writes: You know that secret top security Area 51 warehouse where they take the Ark of the Covenant at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark….

  10. Surely Chris Smalling deserves a mention in your Premiership roll-call, despite a somewhat short stay? No home sickness at Manchester clearly. Wasn’t it also Rob Lee who was worried about coming up North and promptly – in the days before satnav – got his bearings all muddled up?
    **AV writes: Smalling came and had a look around and agreed to join but immediately got cold feet. I’m not sure he was even formally registered at the Academy.

  11. AV – re. your Premier list (or more accurately in this case ex-Premier), that should of course read David Murphy, not Danny.
    **AV writes: “Spotters’ badge, Clive!”

  12. But if we had the choice, between David and Danny, Danny Murphy will have had the better Premier League career!
    And if Henderson is worth £20M….what value now would be placed on a Downing or an Adam Johnson with a decent bit of contract left to run? And can we please stick a couple of noughts on the value of Rhys Williams if anyone comes knocking?? On these figures Joe Bennett must be worth a few quid as well. But they are both worth more FOR US.

  13. According to BBC the proportion of income that Premier League clubs spend on wages hit a record 68% in 2009-10, a report into football finances by Deloitte says.
    While Manchester United spent 46% of its revenue on pay, rivals Manchester City splashed out a massive 107%.
    Chelsea again topped the wages bill, as they have done every season since 2002-03, at £174m.
    “This new high is worrying, something Uefa’s financial fair play rules should address,” said Deloitte’s Dan Jones….
    When this stupidity will end? How much of this money goes out of the sport for ever? What does we – fans – gain from this inflated wages? Surely good for Bentley, Rolls and Aston Martin but who else benefit from this? Not the English players playing mainly in the Championship.
    At least Boro are British and spending the money in the right places. Up the Boro!

  14. Jarkko –
    Look beyond the Premier League and you see something I have posted about before that affects lower prem and clubs down the pyramid.
    For all the much envied TV income in the premiership the two richest clubs in the world are Real and Barca.
    Why is this? Because the TV rights are negotiated individually by the clubs in Spain. I wonder how much cascades down their football pyramid?
    Currently the top clubs get an unfair slice of the cake in England. If the EU get their way the rights will be opened up to ‘competition’. I wonder how the TV income would distriuted under a free for all?
    A quick look at attendances in Spain shows that the club with the sixth highest attendance attracted the same as the 14th team in our Premiership. It is even harder to get near the big boys in Spain than in England.
    Like many I dislike the way money is ditributed but I prefer our system to Spain.
    On to a good read by AV about Gate’s Poison Chalice. Totally agree with all of it. We followed the events and debated them on this blog with great regularity.
    We saw it coming, shame the crew used the same opticians as Wenger. Should have gone to Specsavers.

  15. I liked your peice on Gareth, it didnt take much hindsight to see what went wrong there, it unfolded from day one as you rightly say.
    You could argue that the villain of the piece still seems to be hanging around in the wings. His influence made Gareth’s signing happen and was the smudge on the periscope lens that he obviously had pointing in the wrong direction while the club was drowning not waving!
    Lets hope that Gareth can one day visit the club and get some balance restored to his reputation from the fans.
    As for the architect of the recent decline I will certainly put a £5 note in his collection as long as he promises never to return.

  16. Uxter –
    I think the majority felt a bit of sympathey for Gareth. Wrong person at the time but did his best, better off out of it.
    At least he was well paid for his efforts. Most of us dont get a years salary and gardening leave when things go wrong!

  17. While we wait for the tumbleweed to blow across the summer scene that is Boro FC, we can speculate on what next year will bring.
    I reckon we will end up 7/8th flirt with but just not quite reach a play-off place. On our day we are a top two team, I just dont think we will have enough often enough to ward off the Premier just come downs and the others that just didnt make it last year.
    Pick a final place AV!! Pin your tail on that donkey and this time next year we can giggle quietly with some respect once again at your predictions.
    **AV writes: We haven’t got a clue wha tthe team will be on September 1st so speculation is difficult. Whatever happens though I have confidence that there will be structural progress under Mogga and decent football played with spirit.

  18. On the question of players wages and the consequence of money going out of the game don’t forget that the government takes 50% of a players wage in tax (thats the ones who haven’t managed to hive it away in offshore accounts).
    Maybe the government could be persuaded to put some of this windfall back into grass roots sport,there again they’ll probably give it to the bankers.

  19. Good bloke Gareth Southgate. In my opinion, he’d get a big cheer from me whenever/if ever he visits the Riverside again.
    Making a player with zero management experience the club manager was a huge mistake by Steve Gibson, particularly doing so in the knowledge that a difficult few years lay ahead.
    Gareth’s mistake was believing he could do the job without learning how to first.
    Steve McClaren may have been a rookie manager but he had a shed load of coaching/assistant manager experience when he arrived.
    And Robbo was appointed at the end of the era where it was possible to make that leap from player to manager.
    Nowadays any player who thinks he can move straight from playing to managing a Prem/Championship club is a fool.
    My prediction is for Boro to finish 6th next season…………why not?

  20. AV – Great article about Gareth Southgate..
    In my view he was badly treated after being given – what you call ‘the poisoned chalice’.
    Southgate is a very intelligent and articulate – but in management terms was a bit ‘wet around the ears’ when appointed. What your article doesn’t mention was he inherited the existing backroom staff, including someone who wanted the job when McClaren left, and his authority and ability to run the club as he wanted was underminded from the onset.
    Football Management isn’t a singular function – it can’t be. These days its too big a job. Mogga hasn’t come on his own – he has Mark Venus as his assistant who re-enforces the Mogga Philosophy throughout the Club – but also acts as Mogga’s friend, trusted advisor and sounding board, meaning he’s not taking tough decisions totally on his own..
    I think Gibson/Lamb were very naive to think Gareth could just walk into the manager’s job without having his own team in postion.
    If they had recognised the need or, if Southgate had insisted on having his own team, I think the ending might have been quite different – and who knows – we might have been still watching ‘Arsenal Lite’ battling away in the Premiership.

  21. Comprehensive review of the Southgate chapter in the book of Boro’s fall from grace.
    Couple of constructive comments if I may however.
    “Poor Gareth” – an unfortunate adjective in both senses of the word. I bet his bank manager and agent would even find it hard to agree with that description after the lucrative pay off from the inept, crass and financially improvident organisation that was MFC. (and had been for some time), under the stewardship of Steve Gibson.
    In the other sense of the word ,it is hard to have much sympathy for someone who not only knew exactly what situation he was getting himself into but also knew, deep down, that he was not management material – not cut out for the job in hand.
    He was prepared to become the patsy for the club’s fall from grace. He sacrificed self pride for a five year contract that would probably give him and his family financial security for life.
    I may be cynical but that is the world we live in and in the football world we know cynicism goes with the territory.
    I don’t blame G.S. it was the decision of an intelligent man acting in the best interests of himself and his family and best of luck to them in the future.
    The ubiquitous quote AV is so fond of espousing, should be morphed into ;- the club will get the team it can afford.
    And that is because Teesside can afford better than what has been delivered so far, if given the opportunity to do so.
    **AV writes: I think you are wrong on Southgate in thinking he was so cynical.
    I think he knew it was going to be difficult but genuinely believed he could do the job. It is in the mindset of all athletes to believe they can win, that they can rise to challenges, plus I think Southgate had a clear startegy of where he wanted to go.
    And to be fair, the first season, despite the steep learning curve and being dealt a bum hand, he didn’t too bad. It was certainly no worse than McClaren’s last season in the league.
    His real failings were in recruitment and that was partly because he was working with restrictions that his predecessors never had (both in terms of having to cut the wage bill and in having a transfer triumverate debate and sanction targets) and partly because the men he brought in, ultimately, weren’t good enough.

  22. “**AV writes: We haven’t got a clue what the team will be on September 1st so speculation is difficult. Whatever happens though I have confidence that there will be structural progress under Mogga and decent football played with spirit.”
    I agree with that. I think top ten is very do-able but I don’t see top six next time round. We’ll take it if it happens of course – that would be a great ‘problem’ to have!!
    The Mogga rebuild will be able to be completed next summer with the remainder still on big money then going out of contract.
    But with another good, injury free season under their belts we may be even more vulnerable to more or the Academy kids leaving.
    We’ll see then what the ‘austerity’ team can do under Mogga’s guidance. I’d hope that might mean a genuine crack at top six or even automatic – but that might take even longer.
    Let’s hope the progress, the decent football style and the spirit – with Mogga acting as ‘the face of Boro’ – gets some more folks along to games.

  23. AV writes:
    “His real failings were in recruitment and that was partly because he was working with restrictions that his predecessors never had (both in terms of having to cut the wage bill and in having a transfer triumverate debate and sanction targets) and partly because the men he brought in, ultimately, weren’t good enough.”
    Alves £13m
    Mido £6
    Digard £4m
    Aliadiere £3m
    Emnes £3m
    Hoyte £4m
    to name but a few.
    The outs crippled us in terms of the quality of players and experience lost to be replaced by wastes of space.
    It reminds me of the team of Proctor and co which were sold and replaced by dross. In true question of sport fashion what happened next?
    Anyone got a spare padlock?

  24. No matter how experienced or inexperienced a manager is, he lives or dies by his transfer buys. Ian Gills list says it all, probably Southgates biggest mistake on taking the Boro job was agreeing to being one third of a ‘transfer committee’. If your job depends on who you buy or don’t buy then the decision on who you buy or dont buy should be yours alone.
    My assertion that we can finish sixth next season is based on the fact that to do so would mean securing an extra thirteen points over what we achieved this season. Five defeats turned into four wins and a draw. Surely thats achievable given the form we were in from January onwards for the season just finished?
    We may lose some big earners (if we’re lucky) but which of our big earners if they were missing next season would adversley effect team performance? None I would suggest.

  25. Ian –
    He also thought The Corporal was a Prem goalie too – The Scousers, by letting him go after very rarely – if ever – playing him even when their ever present number one could have done with a rest, have confirmed what we all knew but Gate didn’t or didn’t want to.

  26. “AV – Great article about Gareth Southgate..”
    What? Where?
    **AV writes: Should be on gazettelive.

  27. Southgate was a nightmare in the transfer market. Players come and go and you have to sell, that’s a given. But you have to make sure that when you bring players in they are better or at least no worse than the ones that have left and Southgate didnt do that.
    The only time he brought in a player who was better than what we had was with Luke Young – and he only kept him for a year then undid all the good work by wasting the profit on Hoyte.
    Luke Young raises another point. Southgate was weak. Any other manager would have resisted that sale. Most would have gone to the press and complained about having players sold underneath them. Even if it was only getting their excuses in early.
    Southgate didn’t. He never once complained about the wage cuts or not getting the players he wanted. He didn’t want any confrontation with Gibbo/Lamb. But he was always going to have to carry the can.
    If had been more selfish and looked out for his own interets we wouldn’t have had a whol eteam sold off and we would have gone down.

  28. John
    The Corporal made one appearance for Liverpool in the league cup and I think he is back there after a loan period at Derby.
    Ste Mac
    Or sell players and not replace them at all as in the great midfield cleansing of August 2008.
    Dont know if that was worse than replacing Viduka, JFH and Yakubu with a sundry selection featuring Alves, Mido, Aliadiere, Dong Gook Lee, Marlon King, Caleb Folan.
    Of that group it is revealing that King has repaid Coventry for rescuing after his prison sentance by signing for Birmingham City. You can view it two ways, he didnt want to inflict himself on them so joined local rivals to help the sky blues. The other is that he is a self centred, ungrateful wretch.

  29. Gareth Potter and the Soccer’s Stone is the first film in the Gareth Potter series based on the novels by G.H. Wallah.
    It is the tale of Gareth Potter, an ordinary 36-year-old boy serving as a sort of slave for his “uncle” who learns that he is actually a Manager and has been invited to attend the Hurworth School for Teaching and Wing Wizardry.
    Gareth is snatched away from his mundane existence by Lord Voldemort, the groundskeeper for Hurworth, and quickly thrown into a world completely foreign to both him and the viewer.
    Famous for an incident that happened at his birth, Gareth makes friends easily at his new school. He soon finds, however, that the Wing Wizarding world is far more dangerous for him than he would have imagined, and he quickly learns that not all CEO’s are ones to be trusted…..

  30. AV –
    What do you make of the Football League’s decision to adopt the UEFA Financial Fair Play system ‘in principle’ with the regulations aiming to be developed and approved by the start of the 2012/13 season?
    What does ‘in principle’ mean? Is it one of those ‘political’ pledges that will, later, get watered down. And does the aim to have the regulations developed and approved mean that the initiative will prove to have a much more flexible date for introduction than currently appears from the headlines?
    You can see why hard pressed clubs would want to do it and the approach, generally, has to be the right way to go. But, equally, those who have investment from non-football sources through their ownership and might be looking for a quick return to The Prem may not want to play by the rules and may be looking for the long grass to boot this into.
    I suppose that another benefit might be that finding creative ways to market and price the on-field product may make going to games more financially attractive for more punters – particularly for young families.
    It might make some more clubs – even MFC, for goodness’ sake – look at Supporters Trusts as a means of binding the fans into the club in more ways than just following the team.
    And if MFC can master that sort of stuff alongside what Mogga’s doing on the field, coupled with continued investment in The Academy it could all be very good for Boro, eventually.
    All the same, I’d still prefer to be back in The Prem before it comes in – even if that means another yo-yo sequence before getting established in the top league again.
    But, did anyone else appreciate the irony of these austerity measures being discussed by hordes of executive representatives of ‘poverty stricken’ clubs in – sunny where? Crewe? Chester? Cramlington? No – Cyprus.
    **AV writes: There will be a lot of wriggle room. For instance, teams relegated from the Prem will be given a couple of years grace and limited companies will still be able to shift assets around to make the books balance on paper or “write off” debts in various ways to stay within their limits. I’m trying to get my head around it. Probably do it in my column on Tuesday.

  31. The way I see it MFC as a football club are finished: no money,no promotion and that is what it’s all about. Many thousands if fans will not return until they are back in the PL. Let’s face it there are two clubs up the road to go and watch PL or you can get on a train amd be in Manchester OR Liverpool in less tha two hours. Even London is easy ti get to now. Fans don’t want to watch CL fooball simple as.
    If there is no money I suggest SG,gets someoene with money PDQ,or the club will fade into oblivion forever .If we can’t compete with the likes of Fulham, Wigan, Blackburn, Stoke, Bolton to mention a few it’s time to give up

  32. This new financial Fair play System will be a disaster for the players and I cant understand why the players Union would go along with it.#
    Which clubs are going to hand out more than a 12 month contract. You see it now in the lower leagues,the overturn of players every season is getting larger,
    Income to clubs can change from season to season

  33. I think the Financial Fair Play system is an attempt by club owners to try and take control back from the players and their agents. A multilateral deal is the only way forward for clubs if they don’t want to be left behind.
    Perhaps the next logical step forward is for PL clubs to establish a pay structure into players contracts that automatically reduces their basic salary if the club is relegated – why should clubs face financial meltdown to keep overpaid players who failed on the pitch rolling in cash? Performance related pay is hardly a new concept.
    Football has escaped the pressures of financial realism for too long and the regulatators have so far just held their hands up and hid behind the free market mantra – plus are tatoos and hair transplants that expensive?
    Though we shouldn’t worry too much about the hardship facing players – afte rall three grand a week is still more than the people working very long hours trying to run the country pick up.

  34. Ian
    I read the other day that The Scousers have now released The Corporal (along with a few others) and told him to find another club.

  35. But, Paul Bell at 11.35pm yesterday, I don’t support the two teams up the road, or the teams in Manchester, Liverpool or London, despite the increasing speed of the trains to get me there. I have no CONNECTION with those clubs. There are not my tribe, they don’t feature in the shared memories of me and my friends.
    Where you, or maybe your parents, were born or brought up largely determines the football supporting habits of most of the fans on Teesside and elsewhere. I accept that with increased information via the media, the internet and the live “Super Sunday” (and other days) games on satellite TV, the teams that are now at the top of the tree reach a bigger audience than ever before, particularly abroad, and will have a larger fanbase and therefore more commercial opportunities to milk the cash cow.
    I quite like watching Barcelona because of the brand of football they play and, a few decades ago I felt the same way about watching Ajax and the Dutch national team. I still think fondly of them. If I’d been older I would no doubt wax lyrical about the Real Madrid side that dominated the early European Cups – di Stefano and Puskas etc, real giants of the game.
    But in those days the live games on TV were few and far between and, therefore, a big European match or a World Cup game was a rare feast to be devoured hungrily. I like a nice fillet steak, but I wouldn’t want to eat it all the time.
    And the constant stream of “Super Soaraway Sundays” (or whatever name Man Utd v Bolton has this week, to make it sound better than Spurs v Wigan last week) is just like yet another fillet steak when you’ve had your fill and could really do some damage to a piece of salmon or a decent lamb hotpot.
    If you supported Man Utd then no doubt you could watch their games every week. If you don’t….
    Personally, whilst of course I was more than happy to watch Man Utd v Chelsea and the Champions League final, I am not interested in seeing Man Utd every week. I don’t follow them. I’d rather watch Boro reserves.
    Do you remember the “wonder goal” that Ryan Giggs (cast your mind back to when he was most famous for what he did on the football field) scored for Man Utd against Arsenal in the FA Cup, and then ran around bearing a surprisingly hairy torso as he swung his shirt above his head? I think I saw the replay of that goal on one of the Riverside concourse TVs. If I had been interested in the “Big Two” (as they were then) I would have gone to the pub to watch their game, but I and thousands of others preferred to pay to watch the Boro.
    And so it will go on. I am sometimes mildly interested in other teams. But I support only one team. If I had been offered a ticket for the Wembley Champions League final a month or so ago, I would have preferred to watch the game in my local pub with a few mates.
    So what it boils down to, Paul, is that if I ever decided to walk away from the Boro (and there were times in the last 18 months when the thought did cross my mind….) it wouldn’t be to go up the coast to watch the Premier League duo there, or to Manchester or Liverpool. That would feel adulterous.
    The chances are that if I decided enough was enough with the Boro, it would be me walking away from ALL of football, not just my local team. It would be because I wanted to do something completely diffferent with my Saturday afternoons, and those uncomfortable wet and chilly evenings in the darkness of February.

  36. Good grief!
    Billy davies sacked and likely to be replaced by McMoses. Magnificient!
    Smog, stop hiding and come out.

  37. Paul Bell said: “The way I see it MFC as a football club are finished …”
    I think we are one of the favourites to win the Championship next season (see: http://www.mfc.co.uk/page/news/latest/0,,1~2372679,00.html). I know the bookies were wrong last year but it is very rare they are wrong.
    I trust Mogga to take us to the PL in one to two years. Anywayas a club we’re better off than all the C’ship clubs – and half of the Prem clubs, too.
    Personally I see Boro winning a silverware in five to 10 years’ time. Anyway sooner than England do (or does?)as Dormo said earlier.
    Up the Boro!

  38. They could appoint Sooty and Sweep and we still couldn’t beat the unmentionables. I don’t know what to make of it. There are at least five teams Whammies, Leicester, Reading, Blackpool, Leeds who’s managers have to gain promo this season or be top at Christmas the year after or they will be sacked. Not to mention the blood presuretastic vacancies at Brum and Cardiff bouyo.
    How long has mogga got?
    Anyone know the record for chimpship managers losing their job in one season? This year could be worth a flutter? How many went last year?
    Wee Gordie, now Davies and Jones, Laws, Burley, Ferguson, Blackwell, Speed, Adams, Scunnies Mgr, Keane, Coppell off the top of my head.
    It’s madness

  39. ….I should have said “baring his torso…” but never mind! With all that hair he did look a little bear-like.

  40. Forever Dormo –
    Very nice post. Sums my position up nicely too.
    I do believe that there are many people, as Paul Bell suggests, who would return if Premier League football was to return to the Riverside. And I’d defend their position as being their freedom of choice and preference.
    I doubt that there are too many who love football as a game so much that they would shift allegiance from their local team to one of the other NE, currently, Premier League clubs. Also, although there are probably quite a few locals who follow Man Utd or others of the big four, mostly via TV, there can’t be too many who would travel the length or breadth of the country following them – unless they are employment migrants from Salford, Notting Hill, Knotty Ash or Enfield.
    Apart from the diehards – a numerically challenged demographic group as a percentage of the population with the growth of the middle classes with higher net disposable income – it’s mostly about perceived value for money in entertainment these days. More selective that habitual.

  41. Good article AV, lot said about Southgate – nice guy, intelligent, articulate, new breed of young Brit manager in the Premiership etc etc.
    Sorry to the rose coloured specs brigade, however Southgate was gutless, inexperienced and arrogant in that he believed he could manage what was then a successful business.
    Yes, faults all around particularly with SG appointing him, however top and bottom was Southgate was naive and lacked experience, wisdom and judgement. No major business whatever the product would have appointed this guy and no reasonably intelligent person would have applied for such a high profile position.

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