It’s Not Just Boro Stagnant In A Tumble Weed Transfer Market

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.

The summer shake-up: Championship business so far

BOURNEMOUTH :
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)
BARNSLEY
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)
BIRMINGHAM CITY
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)
BLACKBURN ROVERS
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)
BLACKPOOL
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)
BOLTON WANDERERS
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)
BRIGHTON
IN: Matthew Upson – Stoke (free)
OUT: Stephen Dobbie – Crystal Palace (undisclosed), Anton Rodgers – Oldham (free), Vicente(released), Gary Dicker (released), Marcos Painter (released)
BURNLEY
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)
CHARLTON ATHLETIC
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)
DERBY COUNTY
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)
DONCASTER ROVERS
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)
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN
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)
IPSWICH
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)
LEEDS
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)
LEICESTER CITY
IN:
OUT: Joe Jones – Yeovil (free)
MIDDLESBROUGH
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)
MILLWALL
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)
NOTTINGHAM FOREST
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)
READING
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)
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY
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)
WATFORD
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)
WIGAN ATHLETIC
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)
YEOVIL
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)

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38 thoughts on “It’s Not Just Boro Stagnant In A Tumble Weed Transfer Market

  1. Bar Nicky Bailey, the rest of Boro’s outs have been squad players and since he has been replaced by Varga then it’s as was plus Dean Whitehead.
    If that’s what we start with, then is that going to be enough? I don’t think that’s going to change the 2013 losing mentality we got stuck in – with all due respect to Dean Whitehead, he isn’t the missing piece to make it all tick again.
    I would hope to see at least three more additions to the dressing room before the season starts, if only to refresh an embattled team spirit – a bad start will not help matters if the new recruits enter the fray already under pressure to make an impact.
    Anyway, surely it’s time the transfer deadline was in sync with the season start – otherwise why not delay the start of the league and perhaps begin with three rounds of the league cup instead.
    It also looks like the age of the transfer fee for second tier clubs may now be seen as an unnecessary cost.
    **AV writes: Yes, transfer fees are withering in the second tier, as are long contracts for new arrivals and mega wages. The correction is long overdue.

  2. Werdermouth –
    good post. I think Mogga has said that he expect to have three or four new players still to arrive. But as you said the timing is a bit worrying as the window is too long open and the PL teams have just started or are about to start training. So no quick decisions to be made.
    As discussed we might have the new four players in very, very late. So I can see Mogga has now started to think about the team shape already. These are mainly the players we must start the season with. OK, we might add a really important new signing but not all four without much training time behind.
    Interesting to note that Gibbo played all 90 minutes yesterday at Morecambe. He had a nearly full season at Tranmere last year. So more first team experience at a higher level than Wheater had when he broke into the first team. And he is said to be a natural leader and shouting with instruction all the time.
    We definitely need a CB to add up the numbers. We have Rhys fit, nobody knows about Woody and Hines is still recovering from an operation. Then a striker if one of the old heads can be moved on. And definitely a right winger or an attacking midfielder is still needed.
    How serious is Hoyte’s groin injury? Still to be inspected, but didn’t he had an groin problem quite recently, too? So a bit worrying, me thinks.
    A possible starting line-up against Leicester (4-2-3-1)
    Steele
    Parnaby(Hoyte), Rhys, Gibson (Woody), Friend
    Varga, Whitehead
    Emnes, Leadbitter, Carayol
    Jutkiewicz
    At least the midfield looks more stronger defensively. For subs we have Smallwood, Reach, Luke W, etc. so not bad but could be stronger. I hope the changes in midfield will help the pressure on the defense and that our best CBs, Rhys and Woody stay fit.
    A very good analyses of the transfer market by you, AV. Now we know what you have been doing while being awake beside the sick bed. Very happy that everything is going for better. I hope your children are not fed-up with your cooking skils, though.
    Up the Boro!

  3. What are all these released players going to do for living next season? They cannot all get a new contract somewhere soon. Have they a back-up plan – so have they studies while chilling earlier? Very unlikely, I am afraid.
    Up the Boro!

  4. AV replied: ‘There’s no need for pre-emptive panic. Fans of every club in the division probably feel the same about their team and business.’
    Yeh, but the other clubs didn’t implode throughout 2013, did they? That’s the big issue.
    A bad start will have everybody concerned and is likely to very quickly undermine confidence. I may well be panicking (you know me: always look on the bleak side and reality becomes a pleasant surprise) – but with good reason.
    I think it’s crucial we get enough decent results in August to avoid the feeling that the freefall is continuing. I’m not confident that, without key signings, the current players can be relied on to do that.
    **AV writes: I agree that the fragile political balance at the end of last season means there is a lot of pressure on Mogga to start well and I understand that many are suffering a crisis of faith.
    But seriously, there are six weeks to go in the transfer window and most clubs and most players will be holding out as long as possible to get the best possible deal in a belt-tightened market. Everyone is frustrated. Everyone is worried that they will be left weak and short-staffed when the music stops. And that includes the management. That is the natural condition at this level.

  5. The transfer market is no great surprise. At this level down the food chain a lot of it was always last minute dot com, just too late rather than just in time.
    There many players on the market due to belt tightening but the ones we are interested in are probably the sames ones the rest of the division are squabbling over. The rest are not wanted and are journeymen.
    The problem is that we were used to being a smallish fish in the top flight pool. A look at the teams in this division shows teams that may be more attractive to players be it crowds size, location, finances, perceived potential.
    It is not going to be easy, we have to sit tight and try not to panic. It is what it is and that is not meant as a stick to beat Mogga.
    The concern is that 10% of the season is before the close of the transfer window, by then team squads are finalised and before they are settled in we will be at the end of September. We will know more then.

  6. Thanks Jarkko –
    you may be right about Ben Gibson being ready and if he’s a talker on the pitch (i.e. leader) and probably our fittest defender (not much given the competition) then he may well get a lot of game time this season – though Mogga may want someone with more experience as first choice.
    Also if Hoyte is not fit then perhaps it will be Varga who covers at RB leaving Leadbitter and Whitehead to forge their partnership in central-midfield.
    Back on the subject of the transfer activity – If some of our under-performing players from last season are mentally refreshed and charged up (eg. Emnes) then it may not be a problem if they have to manage on their own for four weeks – the problem was not their relative ability but our current crop are not mentally tough enough to cope with setbacks.
    Though it’s still a concern that they will carry on where they left off last term without the addition of seasoned pros – incidentally most of the mooted targets of late seem not to fall into that category but are young up-and-coming foreign players looking to get their careers back on track – is that a revised strategy?
    I think next season’s Championship transfer market will be decidedly different if there are scores of players left clubless following this year’s game of blink – especially as budgets are set to be further reduced by FFP – it may well be get in before it’s too late.
    There are probably still plenty of players who may still hope that a low-to-middling PL club will offer them a much bigger deal as a squad player at the moment – though £250k p/a at Championship level is still a great deal of money in the real world.

  7. This talk of new signings is really a smoke screen. In the past we’ve not been able to coach players to defend or coach players to attack. We only seem to be able to coach them to play pretty football in midfield. What’s changed on the coaching front? Not very much I fear and that’s where the new signings were needed.
    **AV writes: There are three new faces behind the scenes who are training, fitness, rehab and conditioning specialists. If they can get an extra couple of per cent out of the players we have got and get those with knocks back a week faster then that can make a difference. Fine margins. Marginal gains.

  8. I share the positve attitude of AV. Personally I think we have an honest, proven and committed manager. Just remember the era we had with Strachan. We are more professional and have a new scouting system in place now.
    We cannot judge Mogga with same equipment as MacClaren or Robson. They had loads of money available where as Mogga has to gamble on free transfers mostly. So he has done a great job and kept us up there in top three last season until the turn of the year.
    I am very happy with the new midfielders but also see Nikeboro’s point that we need some flair, too.
    We need an attacking midfielder and a centre back, but we must be happy to see that Rhys and Emnes have found their old level again. So the key is to keep the squad fit but there again Mogga has hired two extra people to look after the fitness side.
    So of course we need the three or four new signings Mogga has told he is looking to sign. But so far the preparations have gone in the right direction except for some new injuries (Friend, Hoyte etc). So we still need a bigger squad. But let’s not start be negative just yet.
    I am really looking forward to the season and see new-born Emnes and Rhys back in the side. So we have some core players emerging like Steele, Whitehead, Rhys, Leadbitter and Juke. Looking forward to the Hartlepool match tomorrow.
    Up the Boro!

  9. You’re right of course, AV. The three new faces (presumably Adam Kerr, Alex Potts and Bryan English) can only be positive. Given that we’ve fallen away in the 2nd half of the season for the past two years I’d have been even happier if English’s position was permanent.
    But the point remains that the club hasn’t addressed coaching issues other than by allowing Coops and Higgy to leave. We have a real need for defenders to know how to defend set pieces and for strikers to have support from midfield. How many times last year did we see lone strikers in the box with no support from a static midfield?
    At the end of last season we were promised another ‘root and branch’ review (sound familiar?) but the only conclusion seems to be ‘blame the players’ and blame Stachan for chopping back room staff.
    The bigger questions might be ‘Who signed these underperformers?’, ‘Who sanctioned their purchase?’ and ‘Who allowed Strachan to butcher the backroom?’. When we answer these, the final question could be ‘How can the fans be sure that those who made these mistakes have learned from them?’. Then we can start to look forward with reasoned confidence. Otherwise, I fear more of the same.
    **AV writes: I can’t see how Coops (Academy coach) and Higgy (Under15s) leaving will be a factor to be honest. The backroom was run down gradually over a couple of years, more through natural wastage and non-replacement than anything. I don’t think it was a conscious policy, although Gordon Strachan had the money and could have done something had he wanted to but didn’t really believe in ‘that kind of thing’ and preferred beasting and boot camps..

  10. Taxi for Scott McDonald!!
    We don’t need any more new players, we have Rhys Williams back to form and fitness to replace Bikey, a massive improvement. Woodie and Rhys together with Hines and Gibson covering, thats the CB’s covered. No issue with the fullbacks, plenty of cover. Two new midfielders to give us more muscle, nous and experience, Emnes firirng on all cylinders and The Juke fit and raring to go. Job done.
    **AV writes: We definitely need a pointy, shouty, battle-scarred leader at the back, even just to get the best out of the rest. And we need a creative spark in attacking midfield too. The rest we could probably busk if we really had to (although I’d like to see a specialist full-back who can cover both sides as well).

  11. AV hope your misses is on the mend.
    Whilst this isnt a cricketing forum you seem to be doing a lot of forward defensive work at the moment! Keep it up we need a steady run getter.
    Dont worry folks about the transfers. Nobody is doing business, everyone is skint. All the players are playing chicken with their wage packs. One or two clubs will blink and spend their wad early. Boro will miss the odd target but look at the number of players who have left. The club knows they need replacing and they will replace them.
    Chin up lads. A bit of warm weather in the UK and everyone is getting a bit sweaty and panicing.
    Have a Long Island ice team and let the summer drift by. The transfers and season will be here soon.

  12. OK, OK, so I’m probably being pessimistic. I worry. Unfortunately, in over 50 years of supporting Boro, I’ve been right more than I’ve been wrong.
    The last time I approached a new season with optimism and confidence was when Strachan had imported the Scots. A tranche of tried-and-tested internationals, CB, MF and forwards, the all-time record scorer in the SPL – what could possibly go wrong? Building on a squad that had recently been in the PL, there was only one way for us. Working in London, I told all my colleagues to watch out for our results because we were going places.
    That’ll teach me. That’s why I know there’s no God.
    That’s why I find it safer for my mental health to get myself into a close season mindset of expecting the worst. If we then find ourselves in the middle third, that’s not bad; top half is good; top six is reason to celebrate; top two leads to Baccanalian orgies.
    Enough of my Boro-induced emotional turmoil. I agree with Jarkko (not for the first time). He’s always positive, his glass is always half-full, he makes me feel like a miserable git. Doesn’t change my opinion – just makes me feel miserable holding it.
    I too think that Mogga is honest, proven and committed. He’s very probably the best we can get at the moment. He’s experienced, has shown he can get a team promoted from the Championship and demonstrated he’s an advocate of attractive football. Most importantly, he’s apparently willing to work on a shoe string and, crucially, he’s no mercenary: he’s one of us, Boro through and through. I wish he was more articulate and inspirational but that’s being picky.
    If the club sacked him next season, who could we get?
    He would only be sacked if results were disastrous. So that would be a solid year of freefall with what money there was having already been spent. Attendances would probably be down to 12K or less and there are plenty of clubs with grounds at least as good as the Riverside.
    Not much to offer there, is there? We’d find ourselves emulating the Mackems and looking for a new manager in the lower divisions.
    No, Mogga is our best bet for the foreseeable future. As AV quite rightly keeps pointing out, there has been a lot of good work going on behind the scenes.
    It sounds like there are significant improvements that can only be to the clubs long-term good. Combined with our category one academy, the restored scouting network holds the prospect of a steady flow of new players in the years to come. Given our players frailties, and what emerged about the way Thomson was treated, the new medical and fitness upgrade sounds vital.
    History may eventually show that Mogga did his best work for us away from the pitch.
    **AV writes: I think you are right. Sometimes there is no quick fix. That is not a message that goes down well with fans because level headed patience is not a natural condition for supporters. Of any club.
    Boro have gone through a lot of pain off the pitch in the last three years and the boss has been working with two hands tied behind his back (and possibly a leg too) but we are finally starting to see the rewards for that. Boro are now stable, debt free and just coming out of a toxic bump in the wage curve.
    But even though they can be persuaded of the logic, most fans don’t see or don’t care about all that on a matchday. They just want results. Preferably now. The worst possible scenario is that a bad start to the season leads to a situation where we throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  13. I forgot to mention, we will have our man from Chile joining us soon, so that ticks the attacking midfield flair requirement and gives us the nearest thing we’re gonna get to a ‘stellar’ signing.
    As for a CB there must be a shed load of craggy, cynical loud mouthed centre backs kicking about!

  14. I don’t have the sense of fear and trepidation that others do regarding the forthcoming season. There is no reason to think Boro even with limited new talent are going to carry on the way they did in the second half of last season.
    Before the season began we lost Rhys and Carayol to injuries which effectively took the mout for the whole season. Juke was also badly effected, Emnes had personal issues and was a shadow of his previous self.
    This season with all those players fit and available two new tough midfield players and two or three more others we have every chance of being a top six team. Every summer I read on here why every other team in the league is better placed than we are, its tosh we wont know who the contenders are until well into the season.
    Boro may get a stroke of luck and one of our strikers hits breath taking goal scoring form or we may have a settled injury free defence for the season. Who knows, that’s the fun of it surely?

  15. AV, have the people lost the way to the blog now? Somehow I have a feeling it is only Nikeboro and me over here. Or the weather is too warm outside.
    On the Gazette new web pages, there have been some stories written by you, AV titled Untypical Boro. But they are normal articles with new comments box requiring Facebook login. Perhaps some people think the blog need Facebook credentials, now.
    I think only this page should be called Untypical. There is still no link on the new pages over to here. I miss some fellow bloggers!
    Cheers, Nikeboro. Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: The blog is currently being gradually moved from the old Moveable Type platform to our new nation wide Escenic set-up and at the moment is between two stools. I’m ignoring it all and cracking in with the old system.

  16. Nigel Reeve said: ‘This season with all those players fit and available … we have every chance of being a top six team.’ Jeez, I hope you’re right.
    I remember having a similar argument about Matty Bates. People argued that, just because he’d had several cruciates, that did not mean he might get another. Tosh. Any player with a track record of injury is more likely to have another – and so it proved, tragically.
    Just because it’s a new season there is no reason to believe we will have the injury-free season that you anticipate/hope for. Same management, same training, much the same players, several of whom are notoriously injury-prone.
    There is more reason to suspect that the pattern of last season and several of the previous seasons will be repeated in some form, rather than a miraculous transformation into a durable, resilient squad who play week in, week out.
    Furthermore, unless there is a significant influx of players, the squad is thinner so there is less cover for injuries. We have to plan for Woodgate missing half the season, probably with some of Williams, Hoyte, Friend, Hines, Parnaby, Zemmama and Carayol missing games, possibly including a lengthy absence or two.
    Nigel, if you consider this to be fun, don’t invite me to any of your parties! 🙂

  17. Forget the result of the Boro friendly, forget the fact Scottie may be moving, Forget Joe Root’s century, forget Lee Westwood’s lead at the open.
    The big story is that Jim White’s yellow, transfer deadline day tie is going in to the National Football Museum

  18. On balance I agree with nikeboro – there’s not too much cause for optimism at the moment.
    Can we get promoted with the current squad? Yes, but I think we’ll need Juke to finally show his best, Emnes to rediscover his and Steele, Hoyte, Woodgate, Williams, Leadbitter, Carayol and Whitehead (i.e. the “core players”) all to play 35 games plus. That’s a bit of a stretch to me with not enough probables.
    Plenty of time for new signings yet though, and others within the squad may emerge.
    One thing I keep hearing that I don’t agree with is that the we are very short on creativity. Flair players within the squad may not leap off the page but to my mind it wasn’t creating chances that was the problem last year, more putting them away and keeping them out at the other end.
    **AV writes: I agree..

  19. Andy R –
    I think you sum it up perfectly. Boro have a chance but we need less injuries to our core players. Especially Woody playing some 35 games is hard to see, mind.
    Clive –
    thanks for the summary of Morecambe game. Greatly appreciated by us who cannot attend. Quite a lot of good news but didn’t like to hear that Juke was not at his best. But it is pre-season, though. Training two times a day before a match so it’s not hardly perfect preparation for a friendly. But Boro need to be preparing for the Leicester match of course.
    Interesting to see if Scotty Mac would sign for Millwall as that will help us to sign a few players. Especially a striker – but who?
    Well done to Mogga if we can free some money there. Is Scotty Mac the last player on PL wages now? Up the Boro!

  20. So far then it looks like we are relying on players being re-born with either improved levels of confidence and/or fitness to propel us forwards from the car wreck of 2012-2013. That’s a worry!
    I don’t think the lack of activity in the transfer market in replacing those who have left will necessarily have “weakened” us as it gives more opportunity for the likes of Smallwood, Reach, L Willams, Gibson etc to flourish and they are certainly more than useful when compared with say a perpetually injured Arca or a Zemmama.
    My big worry is not transfer sctivity but that the frailties in organising defenders and tactics generally, especially at attacking set pieces does not yet show any signs of acknowledgement or addressing.
    If Scott leaving improves finances then hopefully we will see some new additions plus the removal of a ready made but irrational fall back excuse. I am sure we will now all be far happier reconciling ourselves with a £3K a week striker replacement who scores four goals in his first season but at a lower cost wage/goal ratio or indeed one who fires penalties straight at the opposition keeper. I’m looking forward to seeing which lumbering mono paced and unfit write off is inflicted upon us this Season (Harewood?).
    I await the start of the season with some hope (but very little of it to be honest) and more expectation for us to be in a relegation scrap for most of the season.
    Any new in-comings are unlikely to excite but perhaps another one or two Carayol’s can be unearthed and surprise me. Perhaps we can find two full backs as cover for Hamstrung Friend and Hoyte. Perhaps Emnes will once again sparkle, perhaps Steele will command his box. Perhaps our strikers will be in the box and not out at the corner flags.
    Perhaps we will sign a resolute and commanding CB with real legs instead of matchsticks. Perhaps Rhys has managed to extricate his head from wherever it was and perhaps Woody can play more than 25 minutes a month. Perhaps Leadbitter has been banned from set piece emasculation.
    My biggest surprise however will be if there is a change in the tactical complications that imploded our 2012/2013 Season. People optimistically point to Rhys and Juke et al being fit from the start of this season unlike last, but reality is that our woeful decline started with our returning stars, our performances and tactics were more galvanised and productive without them in the first half of the season ignited of course by one soon to be departing Scott McDonald.
    **AV writes: Perhaps people will wait to see who Boro actually sign before writing the season off. Yesterday people were forecasting impending doom on the basis of a pre-season friendly. That is now a real cultural problem at the club, the heavy shroud of cynicism and pessimism which surrounds the Riverside.

  21. I must have missed it,or forgotten,but will someone tell me exactly what Woodgate’s injury is? ,Knee, groin ,hipbone, hamstring, spine? What is it that an expert cant figure out?
    **AV writes: He has a general non-specific muscle tightness called delayed onset muscle syndrome. The muscle stiffness me and you get a few hours after heavy exercise doesn’t hit him until a couple of days later. I’m not sure about the exact science. That’s why teams let him shape his own fitness regime and make the call on his fitness for games. But that said, he played against Hartlepool.

  22. Now now AV…..
    This is “now” a real cultural problem?
    The Boro have always had a pessimistic shroud of cynicism, even as a nipper when we lost the first match all you heard was “ere we go again, bloody typical what do expect etc etc…”
    No matter how well we do we always watch the mathematically safe drop line, a fact dutifully recorded in the book.
    Thats a reflection on the area and the club mirrors it, thats all.

  23. nikeboro –
    I was being a little tongue in cheek with my comments about the current squad being able to make the top six without reinforcements. The reality is of course that there will be key members of the squad who pick up injuries. I’m hoping that last season was a particularly bad one from the point of view of injuries.
    I also believe that if we pick up a good centre back in conjunction with our new robust midfield we should be a lot harder to beat. After that a new striker would be good, the guy from Chile sounds potentially exciting, I’m crossing my fingers the club can pull it off.
    As for my parties, I’m having my 50th party next summer, if it becomes a combined promotion/b’day do I’ll send you an invite!!

  24. With Scotty about to leave there looks likes lots of room in the wage kitty to sign on more players. TM isnt going to let him go unless there are guys lined up to come in.
    TNE leading with Viktor from Portugual close to signing.
    COB!
    **AV writes: Vitor and Borja Gonzales have been bubbling in the background the last few days along with a defender.

  25. Interesting discussion with regards the squad.
    The reason it is very thin is because many of our main men are injury prone. This puts the team under immediate pressure.
    As in the past two seasons if we could play our strongest team we were as good as anybody in the league. But we seldom did. So we urgently need some first team players. The secret in this league is a strong bench. Not youngsters waiting to replace youngsters.
    Hopefully TM is looking for first team players and not squad players. At least so far we dont have players who we had to more or less promise regular games before they would sign.

  26. I’m with AV in the optimism stakes, its July the sun is shining we’re hammering the Aussies and Britain rules the Tour, Clearly logic dictates Boro will storm the Championship this season?
    Ask me again in January and I may give you a more reasoned view of Boro’s promotion prospects. The current transfer noises are encouraging, i’m also pleased to see Mooga sticking to his guns on his transfer policy, Viktor clearly fits the name profile. It is Vot it is!

  27. AV said ‘That is now a real cultural problem at the club, the heavy shroud of cynicism and pessimism which surrounds the Riverside.’
    The C & P didn’t grow of it’s own accord. the last few seasons have seen Boro faithful risen on great expectations only to fall flat on their proverbial noses because that which was promised failed to materialise ( anyone for a stratosphere striker that never turned up or have we all developed a form of long term memory lapse).
    The quietude that has developed around the issue of team/manangement dynamics has been and is the biggest concern for me. I wonder with old hands being ejected from the good ship Boro, the management might feel that less is more.
    The only proof of the pudding will be in the forthcoming results – then again it may turn out to be another season of ‘drag the old excuses out of the bag’ time.

  28. I am in the wait and see camp regarding the squad but I dont agree it is a cultural problem nor is it a shroud of cynicism and pessimism.
    It is a football matter, the football was dire in the second half of the season and it needs addressing. That is the reality.
    It is evidence based not some in built negativity.

  29. Nigel, Was your invite to your joint 50th Birhtday- Boro Promotion party a general one to the blog? I’ve always fancied going to the Boro equivalent of one of those teenage Facebook raves. Count me in. Have mobility scooter, will travel.
    **AV writes: Let’s do it.

  30. Agree with Ian & Spartak – C&P isn’t hardwired, it’s a response to experience.
    Can’t fault the outs and ins so far. Happy that the shopping list still seems to have centre half, striker and attacking midfielder on it. I would hope it’s all three and – for me – in that order.
    Interested in the V (not for Vendetta!) tendency. Vitor and Borja (now that Varga has dropped out, Borja’s going to have to change his name) could be OK but one of the things of which we have experience and which Mogga planned to avoid, if possible, this time round was bringing in players from other leagues who might take half a season, if not longer, to settle into the ‘delights’ of The Championship.
    So far as Woody’s non-specific (interesting concept in medical science) muscle thingy is concerned, letting him manage his own training regime and make the call for games wasn’t a conspicuously successful approach last season. This may be one issue that the new sports science team and consultant can get a grip of.

  31. If (when) Scotty Mac signs for Millwall, it’s one out. Wages saved.
    If understood correctly there could be three (3) attaking inforcements coming this week according to Mogga. And then a defender, most probably a centre half as Gibson can play both CB and LB.
    If all this happens, it might be two strikers and an attacking midfielder. Or two attacking midfielder and a striker. If the latter I hope a right winger, too. Interesting week coming up.
    If the rumours are true it looks quite (please note: not over optimistic) good. Up the Boro!

  32. The image of the ‘Boro bloggers’ arriving at my 50th birthday party on a mobility scooter driven by len is an amusing one. My only concern is that we’d end up with two parties, chicken runners in the kitchen, foam handers on the patio…….
    Is the Varga deal really dead, we’re not signing Ireland surely?
    **AV writes: I don’t think its “dead” but it is not looking healthy. I think Napoli would prefer him to play in Europe and it was said he fancied England but his agent has been saying he will only return from loan to play for Napoli or in Serie A. It is probably just a negotiating tactic to get a bonus somewhere along the line but I don’t think Boro want to get into a lengthy wrangle. The have other options.

  33. Nigel Reeve –
    We will have to agree to disagree though it is a chicken and egg situation.
    Four of the last five seasons have seen us fade after Christmas, that is nothing to do with culture, cynicism or pessimism. (last seasons was like the relegation season but we were in a stronger position)
    They just happen to be facts. Oddly fans notice these sort of things, they are not as dim as people think. They can weigh the evidence for themselves. It is a football problem we have. Hopefully the touted new signings will take us forward.
    I might be tempted to put a tenner on Scottie scoring against us but the bookies will probably refuse the bet.

  34. I’m encouraged by the transfer activity which appears to be coming to a head, even if it doesn’t reach fruition this time. Combined with the wages headroom created by Scotty’s departure, even I am feeling more hopeful of reinforcements before the start of the season.
    I agree with Nigel and Jarkko: if we can get a commanding CH and reliable goalscorer, both of them as core regulars, then that would make a big difference. If we could add a creative MF then I might even start to be infected by Jarkko’s perennial positivity.
    If (and this is the biggest if) the new sports science function can have an impact and we avoid lengthy injuries to core players we would then have a shot at promotion.
    Nigel –
    I’m not proud, count me in for your party. It’s a long way on a mobility scooter (50? A mere stripling!) but I’m game if you are.

  35. I read on the BBC website that Man Utd fans are growing anxious at the clubs lack of inward transfer activity, such anxiety is clearly endemic among fans even fans of the heavyweights.
    Ian, you’re right there is no disputing the facts, I think the debate is what is the root cause of the problem. To my mind there are a whole host of possible reasons, I just think blaming the manager is too simplistic and potentially damaging.
    Forcing the manager out which many fans will try to do if we start slowly would be a major set back. I can’t think of a single manager who is better than Mogga and would want to manage the club.
    Hopefully, it will be academic and with Scotty gone and therefore headroom on the wage bill we’ll see some good quality players coming in. There is no talk of signing League 1 players this summer, all the players mentioned have been playing in the top division of whichever country it may be. That’s progress in itself, to my mind this is the first season since relegation where the club has been able to operate in the transfer market without serious financial constraint.
    We won’t be relying on young untried loaner midfield players or centre backs with a reputation for making at least one gaff per game this season. Hopefully we’ll have some flair up front which allow defences to be carved up rather than watching the team retain the ball and pass, pass and pass again in midfield without getting anywhere near the oppositions box.
    The early signs in the transfer market are encouraging.

  36. Nigel, if you’re already sending out the invitations for a promotion party before the season has kicked off then I wouldn’t expect too many affirmative replies from the Chicken Runners.
    Though I’m not sure if Health and Safety would allow the Foam Handers on the patio if you’ve located the BBQ there – just takes one careless removal of a sausage and whooosh!
    Anyway, in terms of transport, I don’t possess a ‘Krankenmotorrad’ (as we say over here), but by happy/sad coincidence I too will be celebrating my 50th next summer – though I’m just about getting used to being in my forties.
    **AV writes: It would have to be ‘foamies’ on the patio. If the ‘rusties’ were out there they would moan all evening about how next door’s lawn was so much greeneer.

  37. AV –
    They wouldnt be able to see next doors grass because the garden would be playing with tucked in borders.

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