WITH less than three weeks to the big kick-off Boro have signed just two players after a summer cull and haven’t spent a penny. Is it time to panic?
No. Not yet. Although you can be forgiven starting to sweat a bit.
Certainly the gaffer is getting frustrated as wasted weeks on his mobile have proved fruitless and some mooted moves haven’t come off leaving Boro light going into the first friendly at Morecambe tonight.
Boro have signed Magyar midfielder Jozsef Varga from Debrecen and battle-hardened engine-room grafter Dean Whitehead , freed by Stoke, to beef up a department that looked limp last term. And that looks like shrewd business.
But it still leaves the first team short in some key areas. After last term’s post-mortem Boro identified the need for a handful of ‘core’ first team players physically and mentally stronger than the departed.
Two have been ticked off but it still leaves Boro needing one or two imposing defenders (depending on whether Ben Gibson steps up), a game changing creative spark in midfield and a goal-getter… although that may depend on the exit and redistribution of the wages of either Marvin Emnes or Scott McDonald.
So with the opener looming Boro still have big gaps in the squad.
But is that so different from the rest? No. Not really.
Our peers are not on a wild spending spree. There is no medieval hiring fair going on that Boro have not been invited to. All but handful of Championship clubs are being very cautious in the market.
The teams Boro will be out to better this term – those who stumbled in the play-offs or fell just short – are in a very similar position. They have all released far more players than they have brought in and have spent buttons.
Brighton have brought in one from Stoke on a free, Matthew Upson, have flogged Stephen Dobie to Palace and released four. Blackpool have signed one from MK Dons and released 15; Watford have commuted three of last year’s controversial loans into equally eyebrow-raising real deals for undisclosed sums, taken Lewis McGugan on a free from Forest and have released nine.
Of last year’s parachute payment powered flops Birmingham have had six exits with the gaps being filled by lower league or Scottish signings while Blackburn have released 11 and brought in loans and frees instead. And Bolton have brought six in and got 12 out without a fee in either direction.
Even the well wadded relegated sides are being prudent.
QPR have got Danny Simpson free transfer from Newcastle and off-loaded nine of last season’s squad while Reading have made two nominal sum buys and signed Wayne Bridge on a free but got rid of 11.
Wigan, probably the busiest, have spent £2m on Grant Holt to replace Arouna Kone and brought in six new faces on fairly big wages – on frees – but have shed 14 others and will flog more before the start.
Of the rest of the Championship only Leeds and Derby have spent serious money: United £1m on Crewe striker Luke Murphy and County £750,000 on Johnny Russell of Dundee United.
So don’t be freaked that Boro are not splashing out. No-one is.
The summer has been marked with a slashing of spending and ruthless workforce reductions that would make the most strident Tory austerity evangelist blush.
As the full implications of the new Financial Fair Play rules loom into view, the priority for the moneymen at both clubs is trimming wages and pruning squads. Any new faces will have to be cheap or free and come in at wages that don’t shatter the FFP ceiling.
So there is a tense stand-off developing. Clubs are waiting for the wage demands of would-be recruits to come down while players are waiting for twitchy clubs to blink – but knowing if they get it wrong they risk being on the dole.
The deadline isn’t until September 2nd. That is almost six weeks away. It is going to get very tense between now and then.
IN: Elliott Ward – Norwich (free), Ian Harte – Reading (free), Mohamed Coulibaly – Grasshoppers (free)
OUT: Jonathan Meades – Oxford (free), Charlie Sheringham – AFC Wimbledon (free), Steve Fletcher (retired)
IN: Dale Jennings – Bayern Munich (£250,000), Chris O’Grady – Sheff Wed (undisclosed), Christian Dibble – Bury (free), Lewin Nyatanga – Bristol C (free)
OUT: Stephen Foster – Tranmere (free), Matt Done – Rochdale (free), John Rooney – Bury (free), Rob Edwards (released), Marlon Harewood (released), Toni Silva (released), Lukas Lidakevicius (released)
IN: Andrew Shinnie – Inverness (free), Darren Randolph – Motherwell (free), Neil Eardley – Blackpool (free), Lee Novak – Huddersfield (free), Olly Lee – Barnet (free), Tom Adeyemi – Norwich (free), Matt Green – Mansfield (free), Kyle Bartley – Swansea (loan), Dan Burn – Fulham (loan)
OUT: Nathan Redmond – Norwich (£3.2m), Curtis Davies – Hull (£2.25m), Fraser Kerr – Motherwell (free), Graham Hutchison (released), Jack Deaman (released), Stephen Carr (retired)
IN: Alex Marrow – Crystal Palace (undisclosed), Devarn Green – Burton (undisclosed), Matt Kilgallon – Sunderland (free), DJ Campbell – QPR (free), Chris Taylor – Millwall (free), Alan Judge – Notts County (free), Simon Eastwood – Portsmouth (free), Todd Kane – Chelsea (loan),
OUT: Martin Olsson – Norwich (free), Chris Dilo – St Mirren (free), David Goodwillie – Dundee Utd (loan), Nuno Henrique – Arouca (loan), Danny Murphy (released), Nuno Gomes (released), Micah Evans (released), Osayamen Osawe (released), Peter Wylie (released), Jamie MacLaren (released), Reece Hands (released), Ryan Humphreys (released), Danny Laverty (released)
IN: Gary MacKenzie – MK Dons (undisclosed)
OUT: Neil Eardley – Birmingham (free), Alex Baptiste – Bolton (free), Stephen Crainey – Wigan (free), Tiago Gomes – APOEL (free), Ashley Eastham – Rochdale (free), Chris Kettings – York (loan), Paul Bignot (released), Alex Addai (released), Kevin Phillips (released), Elliot Grandin (released), Gerardo Bruna (released), Jamie Menagh (relased), Matthew Challoner (released), Curtis Thompson (released), Adda Djeziri (released)
IN: Robert Hall – West Ham (undisclosed), Marc Tierney – Norwich (free), Alex Baptiste – Blackpool (free), Connor Wilkinson – Millwall (free), Hayden White – Sheff Wed (free), Gary Fraser – Hamilton (free)
OUT: Mikel Alonso – Fiorentina (free), Gregg Wylde – Aberdeen (free), Kevin Davies – Preston (free), Sam Ricketts – Wolves (free), Rob Lainton – Bury (free), Alex McQuade – Shrewsbury (free), Joe McKee – Morton (free), Jack Sampson – Morecambe (free), Adam Blakeman (released), Ben Dennis (released), Lewis Fielding (released), Ben Hampson (released)
IN: Matthew Upson – Stoke (free)
OUT: Stephen Dobbie – Crystal Palace (undisclosed), Anton Rodgers – Oldham (free), Vicente(released), Gary Dicker (released), Marcos Painter (released)
IN: Alex Cisak – Oldham (free), Tom Heaton – Bristol C (free), Joseph Mills – Reading (free), Nick Liversedge – Whitby free), Daniel Nizic (free)
OUT: Chris McCann – Wigan (free), Adam Evans – Inverness (free), Wes Fletcher – York (free), Lee Grant – Derby (free), Martin Paterson – Huddersfield (free), Shay McCartan – Accrington (free), Jon Stewart (released), Aryn Williams (released), Joe Jackson (released)
IN: Mark Gower – Swansea (free)
OUT: John Sullivan – Portsmouth (free), Scott Wagstaff – Bristol C (free), Danny Haynes – Notts County (free), Ricardo Fuller (released), Salim Kerkar (released), Matt Taylor (released), Yado Mambo (released)
IN: Johnny Russell – Dundee United (£750,000), Craig Forsyth – Watford (£150,000), Lee Grant – Burnley (free), Chris Martin – Norwich (free)
OUT: Frank Fielding – Bristol C (undisclosed), Gareth Roberts – Bury (free)
IN: Harry Forrester – Brentford (undisclosed), Marc De Val Fernàndez – Olímpic de Xátiva (free)
OUT: Lee Fowler – Kidderminster (free), Martin Woods (released), Jordan Ball (released), Patrick Mullen (released), Gary Woods (released)
IN: James Vaughan – Norwich (undisclosed), Jake Carroll – St Patricks Athletic (undisclosed), Adam Hammill – Wolves (undisclosed), Jonathan Stead – Bristol C (free), Martin Paterson – Burnley (free), Daniel Carr – Dulwich Hamlet (free)
OUT: Tom Clarke – Preston (free), Lee Novak – Birmingham (free)
IN: Cole Skuse – Bristol C (free), Darryl Murphy – Celtic (free), Jay Tabb – Reading (free), David McGoldrick – Nottingham Forest (free), Paul Anderson – Bristol C (swap)
OUT: Andy Drury – Crawley (free), Jay Emmanuel-Thomas – Bristol C (swap)
IN: Luke Murphy – Crewe Alexandra (£1m), Matt Smith – Oldham free), Noel Hunt – Reading (free)
OUT: Steve Morison – Millwall (loan), Paul Connolly (released), Patrick Kisnorbo (released), Davide Somma (released), Paul Rachubka (released), Sanchez Payne (released), Leigh Bromby (retired)
OUT: Joe Jones – Yeovil (free)
IN: Dean Whitehead – Stoke(free), Joszef Varga – Debrecen (loan)
OUT: Nicky Bailey (released), Stephen McManus (released), Julio Arca (released), Kieron Dyer (released), Andre Bikey (released), Merouane Zemmama (released)
IN: Jermaine Easter – Crystal Palace (free), Stephen Bywater – Sheff Wed(free), Steve Morison – Leeds (loan)
OUT: Steve Mildenhall – Bristol R (free), Chris Taylor – Blackburn (free), Tamika Mkandawire – Shrewsbury(free), Shaun Batt – Orient (free), Therry Racon (released), Maik Taylor (released)
IN: Jamie Paterson – Walsall (undisclosed), Gonzalo Jara – West Brom (free), Eric Lichaj – Aston Villa (free), Dorus De Vries – Wolves (free)
OUT: Lewis McGugan – Watford (free), David McGoldrick – Ipswich (free)
QUEENS PARK RANGERS
IN: Danny Simpson – Newcastle (free)
OUT: Christopher Samba – Anzi Makhachkala (£12m), DJ Campbell – Blackburn (free), Djibril Cisse (released), Jay Bothroyd (released), Radek Cerny (released), Tal Ben Haim (released), Rob Hulse (released), Troy Hewitt (released), Adam Francis (released)
IN: Royston Drenthe – Alania Vladikavkaz (undisclosed), Danny Williams – Hoffenheim (undisclosed), Wayne Bridge – Man City (free)
OUT: Ian Harte – Bournemouth (free), Noel Hunt – Leeds(free), Uche Ikpeazu – Watford (free), Josh Shama – Oxford (free), Joseph Mills – Burnley (free), Jay Tabb – Ipswich (free), Mikkel Andersen – Randers (loan), Nick Arnold – Wycombe (loan), Nicky Shorey (released), Simon Church (released), Brett Williams (released)
IN: Jeremy Helan – Man City(undisclosed),’Jacques Maghoma – Burton (free)
OUT: Chris O’Grady – Barnsley (undisclosed), Stephen Bywater – Millwall (free), Hayden White – Bolton (free), Bastian Hery – Rochdale (free), Julian Bennett (released), Nicky Weaver (released), Necj Pečnik (released), Harry Grant (released), Matthew Fletcher(released)
IN: Daniel Pudil – Granada (undisclosed), Marco Cassetti – Udinese (undisclosed), Cristian Battocchio – Udinese (undisclosed), Lewis McGugan – Nottingham Forest (free), Uche Ikpeazu – Reading (free)
OUT: Craig Forsyth – Derby (£150,000), Chris Iwelumo – Scunthorpe (free), Jack Bonham – Brentford (free), Stephen McGinn – Sheffield Utd (free), Mark Yeates – Bradford (free), Prince Buaben(released), Piero Mingoia (released), Aaron Tumwa (released), Stephan Hamilton-Forbes (released)
IN: Grant Holt – Norwich (£2m), James Perch – Newcastle Utd (undisclosed), Scott Carson – Bursaspor (undisclosed), Chris McCann – Burnley (free), Stephen Crainey – Blackpool (free), Thomas Rogne – Celtic (free), Marc-Antoine Fortuné – West Brom(free)
OUT: Arouna Koné – Everton (£6m), Mauro Boselli – Club Leon (undisclosed), Maynor Figueroa – Hull (free), Román Golobart – 1.FC Köln (free), Antolin Alcaraz – Everton (free), David Jones (released), Albert Crusat (released), Ronnie Stam (released), Piscu (released), Filip Oršula (released), Peter Aylmer (released), Jonathan Lynch (released), Callum Morris (released), Ryan Watson (released), Joshua Sumner (released)
IN: Kieffer Moore – Dorchester(undisclosed), Joe Jones – Leicester (free), Joel Grant – Wycombe (free), Sam Hoskins – Southampton (free), Michael Ngoo – Liverpoo l(loan), Billy Clifford – Chelsea (loan)
OUT:, Dominic Blizzard – Plymouth (free), Reuben Reid – Oldham (loan), Richard Hinds (released), Gavin Williams (released)