Who Are Boro’s Great Signings?

RIGHT, thinking caps on. I’m doing a series on Boro’s all time greatest signings… and I want your imput. In the business this is called either research, crowd-sourcing or getting the punters to do the work for you, depending on how cynical you are. I prefer to think of it as engaging and empowering the most proactive readers and harnessing the most informed Boro brains out there – that’s you lot.

So, with your help I’m looking at drawing up a comprehensive top 30, 40 or maybe 50 terrific transfers. Obviously, whatever Jessie J says, it’s not all about the price-tag. If it was it would be the easiest thing in the world to rattle up a list from the Boro Bible and Afonso Alves would be right up there at the top. Ahead of bargain bucket Bernie Slaven and phenomenal free Bobby Murdoch. That’s nonsense.
There are a lot of different criteria for what constitutes a successful signing: impact on the team; value for money; length of service; profit when sold; the PR splash on the national scene; the galvanising effect on supporters; whether they delivered in terms of goals, clean sheets, promotion or trophies; landmarks passes and barriers crashed. All kinds of factors need to be weighed up. There are some tricky mental trade-offs that need to be done – price v productivity for one, longevity v likeability for another,
This is still a work in progress so feel free to chip in. Was the world record £1,000 signing of Alf Common (who sent out a massive statement of intent and helped keep struggling Boro up) a more important signing than, say, Paul Merson, a misfit with baggage who re-ignited a relegated side? Was Juninho more important to the club in the long term than, say, Gareth Southgate or Mark Schwarzer? Where do you fit in bargain buys that turn into fans’ favourites like John Hickton, Bernie or Craig Hignett? Or unheralded young prospects that blossom into giants like Graeme Souness? What about huge impact but short lived signings like Marco Branca? Or even Uwe Fuchs?
I have my mental list but let’s see if it chimes with yours. Or if I have forgotten a key signing from the past. So fire away. Not just names but reasons too. And not just the obvious big names on big fees so but pivotal purchases that shaped an era. I’m looking for you lot to come up with a few left-field names to challenge the household names. And try to balance big bucks with end product. So go on, name your top ten (or more, feel free). It’ll keep you busy for a few days.
MEANWHILE, Philip Tallentire sat down for an in-depth head-to-head interview with Tony Mowbray last week covering a hard-hitting inquest into the shrivelled season and pressed all the buttons of terrace dissent: tactics, selection, second guessing the opposition, the lack of pitch for the anti’s proxy pin-ups Bailey and Reach, a lack of quality in the squad, set-play suicide, the institutional injury crisis, how he plans to deal with the financial restrictions and what’s in store for next term. It’s good stuff.
You can read part one here.
And part two here.
Here’s part three.
And here’s part four.


69 thoughts on “Who Are Boro’s Great Signings?

  1. Smoggy In Exile said: “Pearson – … If we’d have had Big Nige in his prime at the back last season we’d have been promoted – simple as that.”
    This made me think. As disappointed as we were what happened towards the end of last season, we were perhaps just one player away from play-offs. Had Rhys not been injured or Emnes scored some 18 goals last season like the season before.
    So I think a reliable centre back is a must for Mogga to find this summer. As I am an optimist (you must be to be a Boro fan) we should be there or thereabout come NEXT May. As you said, AV, we can afford to sign one to two outstanding players and three or four very good Championship players this summer. And one must be a centre back.
    Up the Boro (again)!

  2. Just a thought on recruiting a centre-back, I wonder if Boro would consider bringing back David Wheater – especially given his much needed ability as an attacking option at corners and set pieces.
    I think he is now into the last year of his contract at Bolton, which may mean something could probably be done to make the numbers work.

  3. Werdermouth –
    Wheater would definitely fit the bill as a robust, physical centre-half who attacks the ball with his head but I think he always worked best with a leader alongside him. He needs organising.
    A Woodgate/Wheater centre-half pairing could be very good indeed but we know we can’t rely on Woody’s availability.
    A Williams/Wheater pairing may work – it ticks a lot of boxes – but I would be concerned with leadership, even if Williams was our captain last year.
    Definitely worth consideration though, if the numbers stack up.

  4. As football has become a right now business, past history and recent events are soon forgotten. It is hoped that the players signed in the close season will become Boro’s greatest signings.

  5. Teesside all over the world? I took a flight today fron Riga in Latvia to Barcelona and the meal I had somewhere above Poland was – a Tees Valley Beef Lasagne! Strange world.
    I will be at the last game of the season at Camp Nou tomorrow. Hope Messi will play. Don’t worry, I’d rather see Boro at Riverside but I get paid for this match (watching the game), though. Hard work and no passion.
    Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: It’s a hard life getting paid to watch football….

  6. Can’t believe Ravanelli is in anyone’s top ten. No matter what he did on the pitch was for me worthless by what he did off the pitch.
    Remember he didn’t score an away premier league goal from November onwards , and cried off injured when we needed him at the end of the season. His constant mis-quotes to the Italian press were lapped up by the Chelsea suppotting southern media. Even Gibson said on radio he was the worst signing we made due to his lack of respect for the club , area playing and coaching staff .
    Was the role model for everything that is wrong with the modern player. Big headed,money grabbing playboy who took the money and ran .
    **AV writes: In hindsight we all know he was a doyle (many of the people in the list turned out to be flawed and mortal) but cast your mind back – and be honest – signing a bloke who had just scored in the Champions League final was MASSIVE. It was a seismic shift for Boro. Hot on the heels of Juninho it signalled that the club could compete with any club in the world for any player in the world.
    A bloke today in Spar stopped me in the bread aisle and seriously tried to argue that Robbie Mustoe was a bigger signing than Merson, Ravanelli and Juninho. It’s all about opinions.

  7. Len Masterman –
    “The half-back line of Bell, Whittaker, Gordon was a permanent fixture for years.” Now there’s a novelty. Perhaps Mogga should try that old-fashioned consistency thing?
    Great post, by the way!

  8. Anything in this Ebainks-Blake rumour AV?
    Cheap, Championship experienced, good age, 1-in-3 goalscoring record – he’s got “core player” written all over him. And I’m not talking about the current trend for multiple tattoos.
    **AV writes: Yes he ticks a lot of boxes, especially at this level but the club insisted this week there had been no contact. He will have been on big bucks and I suspect at this point he will still be looking for a lot more than we can afford anyway… but if he isn’t sorted with a club in six weeks time then who knows.

  9. In a recent post that disappeared I mentioned congrats and good luck to Coops. Throw in the same sentiments to Higgie as well.
    Never mind the squad rebuild, who will partner Ali? Maybe it is a job for Vic though difficult to work for two different media organisations, just cant see you being allowed.
    Ebainks-Blake hasnt scored against us – makes him a collectors item – which would tend to rule him out.
    Listening to Vic and Phil’s video and reading/watching sundry media items it seems there will be a lot of players on the market. A lot will depend on where we are in the food chain. We have our own Boro tinted view of our beloved team but what do the rest of football think?
    We have all scratched or shaken our heads as players have left or chosen to join other teams rather than us. We are now a mid table championship team, more own label than Fortnum and Mason.
    It may be a while yet before we know the likely shape of our squad. We may have to block out 31st August in our diaries and get safety googles to watch Jim White. Sadly it will be to look at the little messages at the bottom of the screen rather than pictures of Mr Craig at Rockcliffe.
    Still, excitement will build , the fixtures will come out soon and we can return to looking forward to Saturday/Tuesday.
    Meanwhile I am off to Trent Bridge on Wednesday. The one day cricket team have been pants as well.
    **AV writes: Over the past two years Boro have missed out on players as immediate rivals offered two or three grand a week more in wages and added it to their debts while this club – actively belt-tightening – refused to match them.
    Now those other clubs are needing to quickly slash budgets to meet the looming Financial Fair Play targets while Boro, with several big earners finally dropping off the wage bill, have a bit of wriggle room which makes them maybe a lot better placed in a buyers market than in recent summers.

  10. I read in today’s Gazette that Teesside will be taking Liverpool’s rubbish (to fuel a waste to energy plant). I don’t know who Liverpool FC are getting rid of this summer, but there’s a joke in there somewhere.

  11. So I visited FC Barcelona vs Malaga match at Camp Nou on Saturday. This was a business visit combined to a visit to our factory near Barcelona.
    The stadium is huge – we were sitting on the last row of the stand behind the goal. The ticket was costing €75 – so around £64. Not cheap and you were sitting so far away that it was nearly impossible to see the numbers on the players’ back! And very high from the ground level, too. Nearly frightening, actually.
    Secondly there was less noise than at half filled Riverside. OK, the Camp Nou was a bit over half full as well as they had nothing to play for – only to record a new points tally in the league. So there was “only” 65 727 people as the capacity is 99 786.
    The beer they sold was expensive by Spanish standards (I paid € 30 for 9 cans at the ground) and it had 0,0% alcohol. So no chance for anyone to get drunken there for sure!
    So people just clapped lazily when the ball was won by the FCB team. Some celebration was on show only when a goal was scored but less noisy than at Riverside. Luckily once the fans generated a wave during the match. But that was the highlight in this 4-1 routine win for Barca.
    The real noise was generated only when Abidal came on late in the game. People gave him standing ovation as this was his last game for the club. More noise was followed when the same player was introduced after the match and gave an interview. Most of the fans stayed in for the final ceremony for Abidal.
    So in all I and my customers were disappointed about the lack of atmosphere at the match. The quality of all the five goals and general play was excellent as both team are on top of European club football. But perhaps the fans are spoiled there for all the recent success?
    So I am looking forward to the next season and visiting Riverside again. Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: Wait… you paid THIRTY Euros for nine cans of Barbican? What new madness is this?

  12. It’s a long time since I drank a can of Barbican.
    **AV writes: Would you drink anything endorsed by Lawrie McMenemy?

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