Transfer Deadline Day – LIVE!

COME ON Boro! Haven’t you signed anyone YET? Get your fingers out.
Welcome aboard our breakfast-to-bongs rolling 24 hour news style scrolling ticker tape of
Deadline Day destiny. It’s going to be a long one but hopefully a productive one.
I’ll be setting out what Boro hope to achieve today and what the potential problems could be, bringing breaking news as it happens, reporting back from our regular calls to Boro big wigs and shooting down all the wild rumours and wishful thinking with forensic zeal. And having a bit of fun too.
It is a multi-platform production so you can follow the unfolding drama from now right up to the 11pm sash slamming (and beyond) in a host of ways.


There will be regular updates and all the breaking news here and on the Gazette website so hit that refresh button and rack up the page clicks as often as you can. There will also be fast-and-furious 140 character chaos via @untypicalboro on twitter. But obviously the real action will be here where you can discuss, debate and denounce every twist and nuance and slate the new signings before they have even kicked a ball – the traditional Teesside welcome – at length.
It’s a collective effort. Feel free to join in. Ask questions or make comments here, tweet me all your hopes and fears, suggest some D-Day mood music or movie titles. And later on we’ll get the beer out and run the rule over the contenders for the hotly contested crown in the Car Park Doyle Fest Shield where holders Stoke look vulnerable after some good splashing in the shallow end of the gene pool last time by Spurs and Hull.
Don’t let Teesside down. I’m looking for you lot to help out with any spottings of Pique in Pally Park, Becchio in Berwick Hills or Jon Parkin buying a parmo. If you spot Peter Crouch going into Rockliffe let me know (we’ve got the Tontine covered by webcam) because today is the day when no rumour, no matter how preposterous goes unpublished.
There is also a Trinity Mirror Regional Live Blog running if you want to check on the panic buy transfer trolley dash activity from around the country or make sarcastic comments about Newcastle and Sunderland.
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The scene/big>: Gazette Towers – an eager and excited looking Vickers sits with six windows open on the lappy, two mobiles to hand, a six pack of Vaux, some Guinness, some Danish and Dutch lager just in case and a parmo.
Read on
9am KICK-OFF AND BACKGROUND
BORO aim to make signings at both ends of the pitch today.
The club have been hard at work all week trying to fine-tune deals to bring in at least one attacking player but possibly a second – a No 9 AND a No 10 – plus extend Shay Given’s loan until the end of the season.
But it won’t be easy. And it could go down to the wire. Let’s outline the current situation as we understand it after talking to senior figures at the club. And some of the problems.
We all know the rumours that have been doing the rounds and it is no secret that Boro have done a lot of spadework on several targets with Danny Graham and Kevin Doyle the pair of players who are closest.
Both will be very expensive deals for the club to do. They are both on very high wages – Graham is believed to be on £25k a week at Sunderland and Doyle the thick end of £40k at Wolves – and both their parent clubs are playing hardball in trying to get Boro to pay the highest possible proportion of that. Hence the brinkmanship.
Both parent clubs would rather do a real deal but that is not Boro’s preference. They won’t want to commit to those wages beyond May. It would tie the hands of Aitor Karanka in the summer transfer market when a more radical squad reshuffle is planned. Of course, if a signing now pays of then the play-offs are not beyond the imagination. And from there, who knows? That’s the gamble.
We understand that both players are keen to come to Boro if the impasse can be broken. It would be one or the other – and it could down to which club blinks first.
Fans often wonder what the problem is but transfers are in constant flux. It is not like Fantasy Football where you pick the one you want and pay a set price. There is no Ebay style “Buy Now” option. There are too many variables.
It is like buying a house: you may see one you like but its a bit too much, or one that ticks a lot of boxes but is in the wrong area, or the survey shows it needs a bit of work. More importantly there may be other offers in the pipeline. You may get gazumped. or you may get caught in a chain. And it may collapse. It is never easy.
And there are no guarantees. Things can change quickly. Because of that Boro have also been working on fall-back positions. Jelle Vossen was never in the equation and we understand that a deal for Sunderland striker Connor Wickham was agreed – he was even recalled from a loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday – but then collapsed last week
But we understand they have also done the spadework on possible deals for two other strikers.
One is believed to be Cardiff’s Danish frontman Andreas Cornelius. The Welsh club paid £8.5m in the summer but he has flopped and they are trying to offload him. He has been offered back to his previous club Copenhagen for £3.5m but wage levels are very low in Denmark and there is no way they can come anywhere near his near £40k wages so there could be a loan deal to be done there.
We understand that Boro had initial talks that stalled on the proportion of the wages they would be expected to pay – but that the deal is not dead.
We believe Boro also have in place the broad framework for a deal for Feyenoord attacking midfielder Lex Immers who has scored 19 in 50 games over the past two terms.
Given the low wage levels in Dutch football outside the magic circle it could be a relatively cheap deal to do on a permanent with a figure in the £750k region.
There are also watching briefs on a couple of other players. Graeme Dorrens of West Brom was mentioned yesterday but while there is an interest – and usefully his agent is Steve Gibson’s friend and European letter of introduction – he is not a priority. Getting the striker in first and foremost is the priority. The No 9 first, then maybe the No 10.
The other chief objective of the day is to sign Shay Given for the rest of the season. He is currently on an “emergency loan” which runs out at the end of February. If Boro are to keep him beyond that they must conclude a “standard” loan before tonight’s deadline.
Shay wants to stay. He has said so publicly. Karanka wants to keep him too. And Boro supporters have an on-going bromance with the safe-hands shot-stopper.
The problem is at the other end. Villa know they have Boro over a barrel and are using the urgency of the situation trying to get his full wages paid. That’s a non-starter. He is on close to £50k a week and to keep him until May on that basis would be a commitment of over £1m. That is the money ear-marked to pay for reinforcements at the shap end.
Boro chiefs believe Villa will bend. If the deal isn’t done today they know an unhappy player nowhere near their first team returns in February and they will have to pay the £50k themselves. So that could come down to a compromise. But again, it could go to the wire.
It is easy for fans to say “just pay the money to get the deal done,” but it doesn’t work like that. We’re not in the Premier League anymore and the budget is limited. Not just by Financial Fair Play rules – Boro are already very close to the permitted ceiling – but also by current income.
Against Wigan on Tuesday night the ticket income from walk-up fans was less than £50k. Well that would pay Shay but what about the other new players? Crowd levels – gate money – have left Boro with little room for manovere.
And Boro have already spent heavily this season. Since the last deadline when £4m was available for Vossen and the pile of cash for Ross McCormack reached plenty has been spent… £1m on Kamara; Jacob Butterfield has been signed; both are on decent Championship wages; Ayala has been signed for a figure said to be around £350k and with healthy wages; Boro are paying hefty chunks towards Chelsea loanees Kenneth Omeruo and Nathaniel Chalobah. And Given. There has already been a massive investment that puts Boro up with the division’s big spenders.
That is the main reason whey they have spent the past week trimming the squad and getting fringe figures out on loan – or in the case of Faris Haroun, out of the club – to reduce the burden and free up space in the wage bill.
Doing some fag-packet ball-park calculations all the fringe players and youngsters out on loan plus Lukas Jutkiewicz to Bolton saved the club about £25k a week. Add in the exit of Haroun, believed to be on around £10k and that gives Boro a decent wedge to play with in today’s talk. But it won’t buy them all. It won’t go near paying them what they want.
One other factor has to noted too: there is a strict Football League limit on the number of loan deals that Boro can do.
After Watford’s abuse of the system last year by wholesale importing from the owners’ other clubs the rules were tightened up. The limit now is five. And Boro are up to four: Given, Chalobah, Omeruo and Varga. It was five but converting Ayala to a real deal freed up a space.
Getting Given in would leave that unchanged. That would mean Boro could make just one more loan deal to bring in the vital striker. They could still make permanent signings… although with the finances strained that may need to be a free. They can’t pay big fees AND wages.
So there’s a few things to be thinking about. I’m going for a coffee.
10.30am UPDATE
A few things to pick through… first a few bits of speculation regarding possible exits. First there is a story on SSN suggesting Jonathan Woodgate is being lined up by both Crystal Palace and Cardiff. Sounds like a bit of two plus twoing to me.
The Palace link is obviously Tony Pulis but Woody has said several times since he arrive on Teesside that he wasn’t happy playing that style of football at Stoke under the baseball-capped bombardier. He has also expressed himself happy here and is working for his badges and is highly regarded for his role around the ground. I think they see him as a future coach. Besides, he has a thigh injury and wouldn’t pass a medical.
Then there is the Grant Leadbitter story that just won’t go away. I think Billy Davies keeps spurting it out every time he sees a microphone. It is a form of transfer window Tourettes. He just can’t help but link himself with rival players, and especially Leads.
It won’t happen. Leadbitter has used every possible soapbox to stress time and again that he doesn’t want to leave. He loves it here. He may be a Mackem but it has got under his skin. Every time the story resurfaces he bangs on the manager’s door – both of them in the past six months – to plead not to be sold and I believe he has also impressed upon the chairman that he doesn’t want to leave.
Meanwhile Faris Haroun, who had his contracted “by mutual consent” last night has signed for Blackpool after talks were revealed on @untypicalboro Twitter last night.
My understanding is that he was close to a loan deal there earlier in the week but Blackpool (who appear to be very difficult to deal with) were quibbling over the proportion of the wages they wanted to play. I believe they offered £16.30 a week, a free pass to the Pleasure Beach and B&B all paid up until the end of May. Boro told them to bugger off. They wanted to shed his wages – you can’t have a £10k man in the ressies – and so they offered Faris a termination so he could then go as a free agent and wrangle with them himself. He will get more there than Zwelte Waregem.
Also on the Pleasure Beach, former snarling Messiah and proxy stick to beat the boss with Scott McDonald is also in talks with Blackpool after failing to set Millwall alight and amazingly not being able to form a smooth relationship with Ian Holloway.
11am UPDATE
Danny Graham is currently ahead going into the final straight.
There are stories that Kevin Doyle is now in talks with QPR after they had an injury scare over Charlie Austin. That can’t be right… all those Boro fans have been telling me that Doyle is a complete donkey. Why would the champions elect be interested in him?
I was told yesterday that he had already had talks with QPR earlier in the week that over-lapped with the Boro discussion and that he had indicated that his preference would be Teesside (although, obviously, “he would say that wouldn’t he?”).
*TEXT ALERT* Word from the inner sanctum at Rockliffe is that Graham is now very much the favoured target and that it is now edging very close. All parties are now unravelling the red tape – he is technically still on a season long loan at Hull and Sunderland would need to undo that before the move to Boro could go ahead – and are ready to give it a good push to try to complete it. Word is that is “very complex” deal so it could still take a while to complete. Heart in mouth time.
NOON UPDATE
Boro fans are now engaged in preparing their traditional welcome for Danny Graham … by denouncing him as useless before he kicks a ball for the squad. Boooooo!
The bottom line is this: is he a better option to change a game than Curtis Main? Is he better than Lukas Jutkiewicz? Has he got the physical strength and pace and workrate to play the demanding role up front that Karanka wants in his 4231 system? The evidence from his time at Watford and his first season at Swansea suggest that he has.
Juke, for all his endeavour, was too easily knocked off the ball and clearly his one goal return suggests he wasn’t working. So, if Boro are to reignite the season and close the gap on the teams above and make a late push for the play-offs they need something different. As Leadbitter said yesterday, they need goals. Could Graham get them? Nothing in football is certain. But Karanka and the Boro recruitment committee clearly thing he can. We have to trust that. Graham he needs a big season. He needs to prove that he is still hungry and can still do it or he could fade away. Give him a chance.
The proposed deal – which I am told is broadly agreed but could take a while to do the financial and legal fine-tuning – is a good one for Boro. It is a loan to the end of the season so there is no massive financial commitment beyond May that would tie Karanka’s hands in the summer market. And who knows, Graham may be on fire.
Graham is believed to be on around £25k a week and if Boro are pushed and shoved into taking that in full it is covered by the wages clawed back by putting the fringe players out on loan last week. That balances the books and, given the £10k also saved on Haroun that could help bridge the gap between Boro and Villa on Shay Given.
Meanwhile, people have asked if there is anything in the renewed embers of the Marvin Emnes to Swansea story. It is after all one of the compulsory ingredients of the transfer window (have we been linked with Shola Ameobi yet? That’s another one). It was intinated to me last week that Gareth Southgate’s former super scout Dave Leadbitter – who found Projects in the first place – has kept a watching brief on Marvin but no-one expects it to go any further than that… although if any interest emerged from South Wales or anywhere else then the engima wrapped in a riddle would be available.
2pm UPDATE
*TEXT ALERT* The Danny Graham deal is inching forward say Boro big wigs. There are a lot of “party of the third part” sub-clauses to sort out and with both Sunderland and Hull’s suits working flat out too (the Mackems are trying to offload teary Teesside tackle machine and serial card collector Lee Cattermole to Stoke) so things are going slowly but they are going. Still could be a few hours to complete but the noises from inside Rockliffe are confident. Not exactly whistling and whooping but upbeat and relatively chilled.
They are not quite so relaxed on the Shay Given deal. That isn’t going so smoothly. We understand that the brinkmanship/blinkmanship there is getting very tense. Aston Villa are playing hardball. They want Shay’s wages paid in full (which Boro can’t afford). And they have the trump card: if the extended loan deal isn’t done by the deadline tonight he must go back at the end of February when his ’emergency loan’ ends.
Villa may want to move him out to recoup some of his wages but they have the option of letting the current deal ruin and then – as he has impressed – putting him out on another 93 day emergency loan to another club after he returns. That would have the added advantage for them of giving them the recall option they wouldn’t have with a longer ‘standard’ loan to the end of the season.
Boro don’t have a fall-back position and need to do it now if they are keep him until May. Although, having said that, Jason Steele is now back in light training after his ankle op.
That is shaping up to be like one of ace nineties cult sketch show Big Train’s World Staring Out Championship finals:


Meanwhile high-ups at Boro have confirmed that the club are in the early stages of talks with West Brom over Graham Dorrans as a potential beat the deadline bonus.
Boro looked at him in the summer so he is very much on the database. He isn’t a panic signing. They did the groundwork earlier this month – checked on availability, whether he would be interested if A and B stacked up and if the numbers were realistic – then put it on the back-burner while they did other spadework.
He was actually recommended to Boro by then Livingstone manager Mark Proctor back in the day when he was just a sparky hot prospect. He would have cost £250,000 but Gareth Southgate judged him as not ready for first team football and passed – so Proc tipped off new West Brom boss Tony Mowbray instead. It’s a small world.
He would tick a lot of boxes as the attacking midfielder in the ‘3’ of the formation. With a lot of top flight games under his belt he has the pedigree, the pace and a potent edge that could really add to the mix under Karanka. Although it would put big question-marks over the position of poor Jacob Butterfield, who is living in a footballing Two Ronnies sketch and always answering the tactical question of the manager before.
If Boro can push Danny Graham through on loan – the No 9 – then they may just have the cash in the kitty left over to make a move for Dorrans as the No 10 too. We’ll see.
Meanwhile, over in Holland, Feyenoord are saying no go on Lex Immers.
4pm UPDATE
No developments on the main action of the day. Still inching forward. Boro are still waiting for the paperwork to be collated on Danny Graham. Need Hull to cancel their loan registration at FA, get the release form back to Sunderland and then get Boro to do their thing and get the “pink slip” back. Should be a formality but FA HQ are busy and no matter how often we ask we can’t get Adrian Bevington to chivvy them along. Both Hull and Sunderland suits are also very busy on their own deadline panic buys/sales so the wheels are grinding slowly. But they are grinding.
That’s not the only things grinding slowly. We’ve broken the hit-counter on the Gazette website with the deadline day blog with record traffic figures. The blog is currently busy than all the sites in the Trinity group bar the Manchester Evening News and Liverpool Echo – and most of their users are loyal Manila Reds logging on from Abroadia. Currently the intensity and parochial passion of the Teesside f5 refresh posse are whupping the sorry arses of big cities/papers like Newcastle and Birmingham with all their legions of fans and Premier League football clubs.
The downside is that a cog fell off and the blog ground to a half but it is back up and running now. Unlikely Teesside’s industrial output which has shown a marked dip today.
Meanwhile I am hearing whispers from the West Midlands that Graham Dorrans is not likely to move to Boro today. People close to his camp suggest that after a few months on the fringe and a frustrating time battling back from a virus and some family issues he was back in the team last week and is minded to see how it works out under new boss Pepe Mel. He can give it a shot and if it doesn’t work he is out of contract in the summer.
That doesn’t mean the mooted move is dead and I understand calls are still being exchanged but it does shift the odds away from Boro making that one work.
On Given the ferocious locked-on Staring Out Championships continue. Boro can only budge so much but Villa can afford to wait until 10.58pm on that one hoping Boro crack so I’m digging in for the night on that one.
*Texts wife… buy beer and Pringles*
Elsewhere, Boro are spared the sniggers that would greet the obligatory unveiling shirt shot with “Doyle” on the back after the Irish striker confirms his move to QPR.
And Ross ‘I Love Leeds Me’ McCormackis packing his bags as Elland Road are braced for an improved offer from old club Cardiff after an initial offer of £4m was rejected.
6PM UPDATE
Do you want the good news or the bad news?
The good news is that word from Rockliffe is that Danny Graham is “99% done.” Boro are waiting on a meeting at Hull to break up so they can push the button and cancel their loan registration. They are currently in talks with Tom Ince which, given the number of ball he has in the air, could take some time. But I am told it is a formality. And further I am told that the other point of the transfer triangle – Sunderland – are keen to get the deal done too and will press their button immediately allowing the deal to be completed. So, almost over the line but not quite and all the bits in place.
The bad news is that the Shay Given deal is dead. Aston Villa have given up in the Staring Out competition and walked away after Boro refused to budge on their demands for a full settlement on his £50k a week wages – or a £700k commitment until the end of the season. That is a figure well out of Boro’s price-range, would have a big impact on their FFP figures and also eat into Aitor Karanka’s summer budget. It strikes me as big but far from fatal blow on the playing side but eminently prudent and pragmatic.
There have been suggestions elsewhere that Villa were also concerned that the standard loan arrangement would mean they had not right of recall as they do with the current emergency loan but they would have known that before they even started talks.
That means bromantic Boro fans face heart-break as Super Shay goes away when his existing loan ends at the fag end of February. Jesus wept… I hope no-one got a tattoo. *cue pre-emptive sniping at Steele*
[TEASE FONT] May have one other little tit-bit for you later…
7PM UPDATE
TEASE UPDATE: Boro are poised to complete a loan move of Marvin Emnes to Swansea.
The longest running transfer window flirtation in European history looks set to finally be concluded tonight with the Premier League side anxious to push through a loan deal until June. Boro bosses have told me that the deal – which has bubbled up today – is almost done. The deal does not involve a fee but Swansea will pay all Marvin’s wages.
The Dreadlocked Destroyer is a long term target for Swansea where chief scout Dave Leadbeater has always banged the drum for Emnes. He he first spotted ‘Projects’ when he was part of Gareth Southgate’s backroom staff and was instrumental in bringing him to the Riverside from Rotterdam for £3.5m in 2008.
He is popular with the fans there after a successful loan spell at the LIberty Stadium in early 2010 when he scored a goal against Cardiff. He was sent there in exile under Gordon Strachan but Mogga recalled and rejuvenated him.
Swansea made a £4m bid for him in the summer of 2012 that Boro rejected because at the tim ehe was flying, full of confidence and had just scored a spectacular 18 goals in the fantastic Championship campaign. He has never regained those heights but Swansea have never dropped their interest.
While fans see a player who disappoints and flits in and out of games, scouts and coaches view it differently. They see a supremely gifted, technically adept player who has touch, superb close control and dribbling, a little sprinkle of magic and when he gets into range, a stinging shot. Coaches see a player that they can get the best out off.
They made a renewed inquiry yesterday and Boro chiefs “invited them” to put in a bid which has firmed up during the afternoon and looks now to be settled. It is waiting the rubber stamp in South Wales.
I understand that while Swansea were firming up their interest that Watford also made a loan approach – they had already just been rebuffed by Graham who opted for Boro – but for Marvin (and not just him) it was a no-brainer: a Premier League side in an area he knows and where there is still a fund of goodwill from fans.
Boro will be delighted. You could practically hear the cheering in the background. Marvin – the ultimate riddle wrapped in an enigam – has been a frustrating presence on the pitch, flashes of magic punctuating long spells as a faint-hearted passenger. A meek magician. And he is one of Boro’s highest paid players so his exit would help mitigate the wages being paid to Graham and claw back some of the cash spent on Ayala and the loanees.
In football terms he is far from a first team fixture and in a position in which Boro are now well served. With Graham in the mix for the front running roll Kamara could play just as effectively in the advanced midfield role.
This is yet to be confirmed but looks very increasingly likely and I’m told Boro chiefs are very positive it will be wrapped up it time. *fingers crossed*
9.15 PM UPDATE
Nothing new but I’m expecting a phone call from the nerve centre. Back on board now after an hour off. Call me old fashioned but after writing non-stop across three platforms for 12 hours solid I thought I’d at least make a token effort to go home, see my family and have some food. I know, I know… faint-heart part-timer. MInd, I’ve broken the Hobgoblin out now so anything could happen from here on in.
In the meantime it has been interesting watching dysfunctional Leeds slip back into their default boardroom meltdown mode as the new wave of chancers get set to wreak renewed havoc. It’s the gift that keeps giving.
Our kendo fighting, Ratboy snot spattering hard as nails hero Luca Festa is the football advisor to the shady convicted fraudster trying to buy the club. The would-be new “investor”, who also owns Festa’s Sardinian home town club Cagliari has sacked 19 bosses in 10 years or something ridiculous. Bryan McDermott has been axed at Leeds and he hasn’t even got the keys yet.
There have been suggestions that Festa could be the new boss (well. movements in the betting markets anyway) but Di Canio for boss. Please
On Emnes, broken here first, it is almost there. The Swansea people – even their chairman – talking as if the deal is done and seem happy enough. My understanding is that it isn’t quite there yet but is pretty much done and dusted.
On Lex Immers, that one – only ever a fall-back position – was dead hours ago although Feyenoord have now made a statement. Boro bid ” was much too low, I do not take it seriously,” said technical director Martin van Geel. I understand Boro made an inquiry as to if he would be available at around the £600k mark and they value him as twice that.
There’s a couple of other things bubbling under and I am waiting for a phone call. Dorrans is still getting mentioned on heavy rotation in the media. Indications earlier this evening were that it may not happen today because of family issues and that Boro are looking at reviving it in the summer when he is out of contract but with Emnes on his way out, who knows, they may try a bit harder to persuade him that now would be good.
Lee Tomlin has been mentioned as well. That is another name off the Mogga summer long list. Clearly Boro are sticking to the names they have done a lot of previous homework on. That could mean Boro are one of the six clubs said to have inquired abour Ross McCormack. I’ll ask…
Anyway, as we go tick-tick-tock towards Jitter o’clock and Bor ofans start to get nervous just remember this is relatively early. Last year Butterfield and Kamara had been sat around in the Rockliffe restuarant for hours and it wasn’t announced until after the bongs.
In fact, we usually do it very late on. Remember Steve McClaren’s late night trolley dash like a supermarket competition winner. He should have been focussed and gone straight for the booze aisle and maybe thrown in some expensive meet but he freaked and ended up with Malcolm Christie, Chris Riggott and Michael Ricketts.
10.15PM UPDATE
Right, strap yourself in for a bumpy last 45… things are moving fast and furiously at Rockliffe. I’ve spoken to the chairman and things could move very quickly before the deadline.
Boro are confident that Danny Graham will be done “very soon”. They have to wait for Hull and Sunderland to tidy up the politics and paperwork at their ends.
Both sides were always going to do the deal – Hull want rid of Graham to free up a loan slot and Sunderland want to offload the wages – but there was some brinkmanship going on. Sunderland appear to have been trying to stop a potential relegation rival having the freedom to use a new loan… even though it was their own player. Boro – and poor Graham who has been sat in Rockliffe Hall all night – were caught in the middle.
I am assured that all parties have agreed to stop messing about and get it done.
Marvin’s move to Swansea is all tied up and they are just waiting for his signature on the release document but as he is ‘desperate’ to go there won’t be problem there.
The club are still working on Dorrans but there is a sticking point at the West Brom end and that may falter today because of the time. The Baggies not being in any particular hurry to sell – although they are trying to get Craig Gardner in so that may change. The feeling is that the shrinking time frame may count against that now. As mentioned earlier Boro may consider going back in for him on the summer when he is out of contract.
There is one other possible deal being worked on but I have been asked not to release details as other clubs are lurking. Boro feel they are favourites and hope to squeeze it through but again, tick tick tick…. .
11.30PM UPDATE
A SERIES of red tape wrangles meant Boro left it late to complete their business on on a tense transfer deadline day.
Boro brought in Sunderland striker Danny Graham on loan for the rest of he season just before the window closed and also made a late swoop to sign Peterborough front man Lee Tomlin until the end of the season with a view to a £1.5m summer signing.
They also let Dutch striker Marvin Emnes join top flight Swansea on loan until the end of the season.
But a mooted move for West Brom midfielder Graham Dorrans fell through after the Premier League club changed their mind late in the evening.
Things did not run smoothly for Boro and it was tense evening at Rockliffe Hall for chairman Steve Gibson and his executive team.
Former Boro Academy striker Graham arrived back at the Riverside after a frustrating stand-off between his parent club Sunderland and Hull where he has been on loan.
Although all three clubs and the player had agreed the deal in principle early in the day the move became bogged down in Premier League politics as Sunderland held off on cancelling Graham’s temporary stay at potential rivals Hull so they could not then use their spare loan slot to sign a new player.
At the time they were in talks with Tom Ince. It was only when in-demand Ince joined Crystal Palace instead that the log-jam was freed and the player, who had been waiting at Rockcliffe Hall all night, was able to sign for Boro.
There was a hold-up with Marvin Emnes too. The FIFA on-line international clearance system went down and as Swansea are technically members of a foreign federation the move could not be sanctioned until he had his paperwork. That wasn’t ready before the deadline but he was given special dispensation at the death to complete the deal with the clearance to follow tomorrow.
And another late hitch meant a loan move for West Brom midfielder Graham Dorrans collapsed an hour before the deadline.
Both clubs and the player had a broad agreement in principle but West Brom changed their mind as their own recruitment plans drifted – a move for Craig Gardner failed to materialise – so they pulled the plug – although Boro remain keen and they could try to ressurrect the move in the summer.
But Boro did manage to push through a last gasp deal for fiery Posh striker Tomlin – although it took some tense late jiggling to get it through without a medical.
Peterborough accept Boro’s offer at 8pm but the time-scale didn’t allow the player to get to Rockliffe to complete a medical. As the deal involves a £1.5m fee plus wages and a signing on fee, that takes the total investment to over £4m . Steve Gibson was unwilling to push ahead without having the security of a full check while cash-strapped Peterborough were eager to cash in as so wanted to make the deal happen.
So the beefy striker – who has scored 10 goals in 25 games this season but also collected three red cards including two in the last three games – has arrived initially on loan until the end of the season with the terms of a permanent move already in place subject to a medical to be completed next week.
Tomlin was a summer target for Boro while Tony Mowbray was in charge but Peterborough were not ready to deal then. He is regarded as a good value ‘moneyball’ investment that can do a good job and could appreciate in value.
Boro managed to secure the deal at a cut-price after Peterborough turned down a far bigger bid from Wolves – who they consider promotion rivals – while the player rejected a late hi-jack attempt by Celtic that threatened to scupper the move.
Neither player will be eligible for the trip to Doncaster as the deals were not done before the 5pm match registration deadline. And besides, Tomlin is suspended.
ADDED TIME UPDATE
On balance that was a solid if not spectacular transfer window. Anyone outraged at a lack of ambition or disappointed at the absence of an eyebrow-raising marquee signing either hasn’t got their head around the realities of the harsh new financial realities or is struggling to break from the shackles of the Premiership past.
Boro were never going to break the bank. They were never going to sign a big name star to excite and put bums on seats. If you really expected that (rather than are using it as a vehicle to just to indulge your birthright to chunter a bit at every opportunity) then you need to recalibrate to ‘Championship’ levels.
Aitor Karanka said at the beginning of January his aim was to get to the window closing with a stronger squad than the one he had on New Years Day. For me, that has been achieved. He has brought in a group of potential first teamers broadly better than the players they have replaced and shipped out a string of frustrating fringe men, bench-blockers with no long term contribution to make, kids who have failed to push on and regular starters who have not delivered consistently enough.
The ruthless purge of kids and bit-part players out on loan or out on their ear has freed up space in the squad and in the wage-bill to fund a reshuffle that has made Boro a smaller but more fitting team. Karanka was aiming for a more manageable squad with a higher level of ability and a skill-set closer to what he needed for his system. I think he has managed to move towards that.
Now people will always squeal when more players are shipped out than come in and use that as a stick to beat the manager, the chairman, the chief scout and poor Roary. But these are the players that the same people were denouncing as donkeys and demanding they were flogged in the centre-circle after last term’s flop.
On balance the reality is this: Danny Graham is probably better, stronger and has more to offer than one goal Lukas Jutkiewicz and Curtis Main; Lee Tomlin probably has more fire and power and persistence than Marvin Emnes; Nathaniel Chalobah (the one who was at Watford) is probably a better, more athletic, more skilful and more influential midfielder than Richie Smallwood and Faris Haroun; Nigerian international and African Nations Cup winning defender Kenneth Omeruo is probably a better, more composed and solid player than Frazer Richardson and Stuart Parnaby and maybe Jozsef Varga; Daniel Ayala (when switched on) has the potential to be a more solid, commanding defender than Seb Hines, Rhys Williams and fitter and available more often than Jonathan Woodgate. That makes for a stronger squad.
Naturally there will be groans at bringing in a striker who has barely featured in the past year (although one that had many fans in raptures when he was £5m rated and almost joined last year) and a lower league fiery frontman with an impressive red card collection that would impress Lee Cattermole. Naturally there will be moans about the Chelsea loanees who are yet to feature. And a bit of bellyaching that Boro “failed” to sign a string of players who were never ever even targets (Vossen, Becchio etc) and that they lack ambition. But hey this is the Championship. This is a club doing the best possible job given the restraints of Financial Fair Play.
Boro have hacked back a bloated squad of too many ineffective players, hacked back maybe £40k a week in wages with all the out-goings and have reinvested it in first team players that have freshened up the squad and boosted the manager’s options. There’s no guarantees of course. But let’s see how the new boys shape up before booing.
The only “failure” to achieve the objectives was the inability to force/cajole Aston Villa to extend the Shay Given loan deal. It was a big blow but the funds are limited and there was no way Boro could commit to pay his wages in full until May. Sometimes you just have to accept you can’t afford something. Still we have him until the end of February and whatever the critics say, Jason Steele is not the worst keeper in Christendom.
Right’s that’s your lot. I’ve been writing non-stop for 18 hours now across three different platforms. I’m knackered now and the Hobgoblin is kicking in. Its been a blast.
Feel free to go back to my breakfast scene-setter and check out what happened against what I expected, And how close I was to the unfolding action. And how many other “ITK” sources elsewhere were mirroring what was going on here. Bloody rubbish Vickers. You know nowt. Shoddy journalism.

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89 thoughts on “Transfer Deadline Day – LIVE!

  1. Why not part-ex Shave Given for Steele? Offset the wages for a while, Steele won’t play if Given is here, he can get some experience training with a quality squad, keep Joe Bennett company, sort it all out at the end of the season.
    If Boro have ambition and cahunas, £2m a year, buy now pay later terms, is a snip of a transfer. If only …(and ignore the financial fair play rules, everyone else is).
    Steele is young, goalies need time. Boro haven’t got any.
    And don’t write off this season either.
    **AV writes: Well you’ve sold it to me… just have to persuade Villa now.

  2. I’m afraid that this new development does not make a lot of sense. Juke out and Graham in I can understand. The wage bill will go up a bit but we should be getting a slightly better striker through the door.
    Emnes out and Graham in – See above.
    Emnes AND Juke out – we are one injury (to Danny) away from being in relegation trouble again. We are not exactly blessed with a plethora of forwards as it is. Let’s not forget that Wyke and Williams are out on loan as well at the moment.
    Kamara is not a real centre forward in my opinion. He can play there, but is not the clinical finisher that we need. I’m not saying that Emnes is either, but he is a lot more use when injuries bite than an empty peg in the changing rooms at Hurworth !!
    Yesterday we were told that the club were working on getting Haroun out (Done) then bringing in a number 9, number 10 and a midfielder. As it stands, we seem to have lost out on one of the forwards, lost out on the midfielder and lost a striker into the ether.
    Come on Vic, reassure me, because I’m worried now
    **AV writes: Things are happening. Should be one. Could be two.

  3. Settling in for the last hour with the lappy, music “rockumentary” on BBC4 and a large Jura. Thanks for the input AV – top work.

  4. Strike out Given, Emnes out Graham in – according to BBC. Tune has to be Mr Loaf classic Two out of three ‘aint bad. Top up Jura.

  5. “There is one other possible deal being worked on but I have been asked not to release details as other clubs are lurking. Boro feel they are favourites and hope to squeeze it through but again, tick tick tick…. .”
    Seriously AV? Whoever it is, agents and parties acting on behalf of the “Mystery” player will be flogging him all over the place hoping to maximise their 15%
    **AV writes: When you are a journalist and someone tells you something off the record in advance and gives you all the details but says “don’t use this until X” then you don’t use it. Them’s the rules. You’ll still get the story and in more detail than anywhere else. Just not yet.

  6. BBC report Graham done Dorans still a possible – SSN news say Dorrans and Immers deals are dead for now and Emnes has gone.
    **AV writes: Emnes still not done. Need his signature on the release form. Should be Ok so long as he doesn’t fall over the pen the slouch off disconsolately.

  7. AK: objective no.1 – finish this week/window with a stronger squad. Chelsea loanees in, academy talent out on loan, Juke out, Emnes out, Ayala loan to perm, Rhys injured and Graham in. Objective achieved??? Discuss.

  8. So now the window has slammed shut have you nodded off due to a surfeit of Hobgoblin? Graham deal done according to Sky hype…

  9. Sorry, I could try and be positive but this is yet another underwhelming transfer window.
    When in August we needed a keeper (and still do from March) and a quality centre back we signed 2 mediocre attacking players who have added very little value to a lacklustre, inconsistent squad.
    The Graham signing is a thorough miserable bit of business. We won’t make the play offs with or without him so what is the point? AK said he wanted a stronger squad after January, will someone explain how that has been achieved please.
    **AV writes: As a rule I tend to wait and see how players pan out before I write them off.

  10. Thomlin signing makes it look a better days worth of business. Interesting that a number of Mogga’s summer targets have ended up at the club.

  11. Thomlin signing makes window dealings look a little better. Shame about Given and Dorrans but glad to get new strike force with proven Championship goal scoring ability in. AV – was there another continental name in the frame other than Immers?

  12. AV wrote. “Neither player will be eligible for the trip to Doncaster as the deals were not done before the 5pm match registration deadline”.
    I think you will find the “prolific” Tomlin is suspended, having been sent off three times already this season.

  13. Think that is a good days work. Gives us a fighting chance for the playoffs if graham and/or tomlin click, plus not skint for the summer. Already secured a passport for playoff final

  14. What an awful week this has turned out to be.
    Last Friday,we were hoping to sell Rhys, extend Givens loan til the end of the season and bring in a number 9 10 and a midfielder.
    Result, no Given, no midfielder, two strikers,one who hasn’t scored regularly for nearly three years with one goal in twelve months and another striker who has been sent off three times this season and arrives suspended and highest earner crocked for at least six months,can’t sell him,can’t free up his wages and will most likely impact on our summer spending too!
    Disappointed and thoroughly deflated,team is in a worse position than it was pre transfer window
    Why am I surprised? Should have expected it!!
    **AV writes: That’s the spirit….

  15. Overall I think its a very positive window for Boro.
    Aitor has ruthlessly cleared out a lot of fringe players who can now go elsewhere and put themselves back in Aitor’s reckoning or just go and ply their trade in the lower divisions which in truth is sadly where a lot of them probably belong. Little sentiment shown and I like it.
    For all the hand wringers, Graham has more to offer than Juke, Tomlin has more to offer than a dancing perma project. Ayala is now permanent and has been a part of the success of the clean sheets now being achieved in most games.
    Given would have been ideal but i am certain he will give 120% between now and the end of his loan. He has been a real gent and earned a huge amount of respect maybe to the point that in the summer when things are calmer there may be time to work something more permanent out.
    I also think that Butterfield has more to offer than the cameos we have seen to date so with Marvin gone he may have the opportunity to shine which I think he will. Jason has had a period of reflection and hopefully coaching, observing and learning. With a more confident defence in front and a team more threatening and intimidating rather than being frightened we may see a reborn Jason.
    Then there are the two Chelsea loanees. Chalobah was always a player whom I coveted (purely in a footballing sense) during his time with Watford. Omerouo adds competition/back up and with a World Cup coming along, hunger and desire.
    Karanka has cleared out decisively during this window, far more decisively than any other Boro Boss in recent memory. I like what I see and believe that the second half of this season will see a better Boro.
    Finally well done AV for once again proving that this blog plus your normal gazette duties along with twitter can really bring the house down. A brilliant days work, take a well earned bow and a standing ovation almost equal to one of Shays bromantic best!
    **AV writes: I’ve loved every minute of it.

  16. All I know is – I now hate Villa!
    Tomlin and Graham IMO are miles better than what we have, Tomlin is capable of operating out wide and I think a front three of Adomah, Tomlin and Graham can cause real problems for any team in the devision. Decent CM is in place and the back four looks better (maybe another prem loan when the window opens).
    I am absolutely terrified of having Steele back in goal, Given’s loan has proven our need for a reliable goalkeeper – and further made a mockery of the clubs farcical decision to let Schwarzer leave. I fear that Steele could blow any chance we have of the play-offs if the good form continues and these new lads hit the ground running.
    Good stuff today AV

  17. It’s early a.m. in my part of the world and just caught up with it all. Pleased we have Graham and Tomlin been a while since we’ve had a firey one up front, can’t wait.
    Good luck to Emness, AV summed it up well. Many a coach has fell on his sword over a particular player they think they can get the best out of, so good luck to Swansea….they’ll need it and patience, plenty of that.
    Like everyone sad we’ll loose Given but he’s still ours unti end of February when Steel should be 100% and he’s not that bad..

  18. 10 goals in 25 is a pretty good ratio for a player who plays off the strikers. I don’t think all our forwards put together have scored that many this season. People talk about him being fat he is not he is a big unit like Rooney, LeTissier, Gazza, Waddle, lee Trundle. You don’t have to be a stick insect to be able to be graceful and elegant with a football.
    Boro fans have moaned for years about our players looking like long distance runners and getting pushed about in the unforgiving championship. People will not push him about and he may be the link between midfield and striker we have been looking for for years.
    People need to give our new players a chance. They cannot be worse than the dead wood we have got rid of.

  19. AV-
    I am not writing off any player, particularly any new signing. My question is: How does Graham add value to our current squad? He may enjoy an amazing few months yielding 15 goals. Would that be the difference between mid table and a play off spot? I doubt it. We’re already one of the leading scorers in the Championship.
    But when the season ends then what? He returns to Wearside refreshed and worth a few bob more than he does now? Most Boro players currently loaned out will move on or else return a little less enthused about pulling on a red shirt than in August.
    I hope AK has a master plan, until now we have trusted his judgement but these two signings smack of barrel scraping. I’m more optimistic about Tomlin. I may be cynical about loan signings but then here is a list of outfield players loaned in since relegation and summer 2013:
    Sean St Ledger
    Caleb Folan
    Marcus Bent
    Isaiah Osbourne
    Dave Kitson
    Matt Killgallon
    Michael Tavares
    Andrew Davies
    Alex Nimeley
    Adam Hammill
    Josh Mceachran
    Hmmm… So forgive me for not leaping for joy about our latest loan history is painting a rosy picture. Interesting though how the two goalkeepers (Paul Smith and Carl Ikeme) we signed on loan generally witnessed an upturn in results.
    Still, bring on 2014, 4000+ at Donny should be fun. Oh and at least we didn’t sign Wheater as cover for Williams.
    Don’t ever take my Boro away.

  20. “AV writes That’s the spirit… ”
    That’s what happens when you post after a night at the pub!
    This morning in the cold light of day still not overly impressed but at least if the players don’t perform they can go back at the end of the season and we haven’t wasted money buying them.
    Pleased we shipped out Emnes,that was a big surprise for me and pleased with all the others who were sent out on loan. Out of them all I think only Smallwood has a chance of coming back and being here next season.
    Hopefully it will give the remainder of the squad a kick up the backside and up their game otherwise they will suffer the same fate in the summer and be shown the door.
    Shame about Given but no way could we pick up those kind of wages,Villa knew we were desperate to keep him and will have heard of all rave reviews he’s had since he’s been here. I can see him being loaned out to a premiership club now when the emergency loan window opens up next week,good luck to him,he’s been the best loan signing we have ever had. A true professional!
    Interested to see what Werdemouth makes of it all,he’s back from holiday today!
    Finally great work by you yesterday,I’m sure other clubs don’t give anything like you provide. Eighteen hours non stop work,at least it’s only a short trip to Doncaster today!

  21. An excellent days business! Those who are lamenting the deals should look at them with perspective and not based on the past records of the players.
    The 4-2-3-1 formation requires extremely hard work and badgering opposition from the front, over the past month people have moaned that Emnes does not work hard/is lazy/doesn’t care **delete as applicable**
    I will tell you, having seen Tomlin first hand – watching him play several times – you will not be saying this about him. Yes, he has a temper but there have been times this season where I’ve thought “if we could just have someone to clatter a couple of players while we’re in the lead/on parity we would take this game by he scruff of the neck and win it! (Huddersfield, Sheffield Wed, Birmingham, Bolton away, Bournemouth) He also scores goals (a couple of really special ones) to boot.
    Graham is definitely an improvement and the fact he sat all day at Rockcliffe waiting to sign suggests to me that he realises he maybe should have come last year – the club are the winner here because we’re getting a £5m player for nothing! Watford tried to sabotage but he hung firm. I get the feeling he just needs an arm round him and some disciplined coaching (& I don’t mean the Di Canio at Sunderland type of discipline) we have all seen how much Karanka has improved the majority of our players since he has been here.
    The worse that can happen with our loans is they flop and come back only for us to send them back out on loan again. Best case scenario is that one or two of them perform, law of averages says out of eight players one or two of them will! That drives up the value and the club break even on them or even better (Emnes and Juke) we make a profit.
    We could have had Dorrans – a move that would have incurred some sort of loan fee – but now we can have him free in the summer if necessary and even better, he’d be ours ala Grant Leadbetter
    Smile everyone, there’s 4250 of us going to Donny today and the club is much healthier and wealthier for it!

  22. I agree with AV’s synopsis.
    I have posted often enough about players moving on and don’t intend to complain when it happens.
    I hope Marvin does well at Swansea. In there is a top footballer, I doubt a coach can get it out. That is entirely down to Marvin.
    When he had that good spell under Mogga many put it down to Mogga’s skills. I was more circumspect and posted that if that was the case blame Mogga when he drifted off again. I believe it is down to Marvin. I love watching him at his best, when he goes in to his ‘dont worry, be happy’ mode he drives you barmy.
    I hope Williams, Reach et al come back knocking at Aitor’s door for a place in the team. They have stagnated for too long though Smallwood was more of a surprise.
    Shame Given isnt here longer term, Aitor will be on he outfield players cases to make sure they give the same protection to one of the best young keepers when he comes back in.
    The players brought in will have to perform if they want a place even on the bench.
    Will we do better and get in to the play offs? It is no less likely than it was before deadline day.

  23. Brilliant day’s work, AV. Congratulations and thanks.
    Interesting that most of the targets and the eventual signings were those identified by Mogga. When will the rhetoric of the new, revolutionary,all-singing, all-dancing worldwide scouting and contacts network bear fruit? And will there ever be a pay-off from all of those air-miles clocked up by Peter Kenyon?
    Forget about the play-offs. They were never on the agenda for me. Aitor has done better than I expected, in that we are not flirting with relegation. Having improved the defence he now needs to get the team back to the standards of ball retention that we used to take for granted, and which should be well within his capabilities given his Real pedigree.
    Graham and Thomlin, whatever doubts one might harbour, are both capable of putting the ball in the net on a regular basis at Championship level. So our attacking options should be much better. Now, as a matter of urgency, we need to get back to playing proper football again. Having less possession of the ball at home against the likes of Wigan and Charlton- Charlton!- is of serious concern. Not much hope of any further progress, I’m afraid, until we re-learn how to keep hold of the ball.
    **AV writes: I think we will see a lot more of Karanka’s imput on targets in the summer. As it is he is happy working with the club’s recruitment set-up and I understand they are already scouting and building the database on people he has recommended.

  24. An excellent running appraisal AV though I disagree with your conclusion of a ‘solid if not spectacular’ window.
    It had all the elements, rumours with substance, near misses,late hitches, cock-ups as we’d expect and we came home with better players (as you say) than we had yesterday.
    It’s a shame about Shay and I always hoped Marvin would pull through but the reality is that he’s had his chance tenfold and a decent Welsh spell will mean more money for us come the summer.
    We’ve had bigger d-day names before of course but this is a good statement of intent. Well done all at the club.

  25. Fantastic window. Dead wood out, kids out on loan, proven players and top prospects in. Cannot understand any negativity.
    How on earth have we managed to get Swansea to take Emnes!

  26. Firstly thanks for your efforts AV. Paid, unpaid, should be paid more it’s a cracking service with we all appreciate, including joe!
    I hope Graham finds his goal scoring touch with us again. Ideally we are looking for 10 goals off him in the 18 odd he will play. And five plus off Tomlin with a few assists. If the midfield stay fit and keep chipping in with goals we might just be able to fire ourselves into that magic lottery group.
    Goals are key. Much more is required from the front men.
    Kenneth should now have a crack at the cb role. With a stronger more physical front two we might be able to hold the ball up further up the pitch and start more consistent play higher up and still being very quick on the break.
    19 games, teams above us to play, everything to play for!
    COB!

  27. Thanks AV for the excellent coverage, comprehensive and entertaining.
    I note that,for all the talk of a radical new recruitment model with Karanka, four of his five January recruits are players Mowbray tried to sign.
    **AV writes: That is because part of the rebuilding (largely guided by Mogga) involved building a comprehensive scouting network and recruitment department that work for the club, not the manager. They are not Mogga’s targets, they are Boro’s.
    It is part of a long term strategy to identify players with the right skills set in various positions, at the right age, at the right price range and with a resale value. It is kind of ‘money ball thing.’ That will underpin the future recruitment – with hopefully a few undiscovered gem bonuses thrown in through the club contacts being developed abroad and maybe the occasional short-cut thanks to personal link ups.

  28. I like Karanka, I do. Did just what was needed. Juke or Graham – the latter please. And Tomlin sounds interesting. We even got Haroun & Emnes out so really professional performance by AK.
    That reminds me of another top performance yesterday. Thansk, AV. Great stuff.
    So no Spanish invasion. Suprisingly no foreign (OK; Ayala) players in during this window.
    Up the Boro!

  29. Ah, the days when we went and bought the best player in the world and then signed somebody with the European Cup freshly in their cabinet! Stop it Steve, those days are gone …
    Let’s assess the player balance sheet. Given on his way, Rhys out for the season and Emnes, Juke and Williams gone. Meanwhile in come Graham, Tomlin and the Chelsea lads and Kamara is just back. Let’s take stock of the net improvement or otherwise.
    We are obviously weaker in goal. However it will be interesting to judge just how much of a correlation there was between our improved defence and the arrival of Shay. Instead of being much to do with him, we might find that the tighter defence has resulted more from better coaching and AK’s organisation. It’s possible that, with the much better shield in front of him, Steele comes into his own.
    Nevertheless it was blindingly obvious that Aitor didn’t fancy Jason or, at the very least, preferred Given. That must have been a kick in the teeth for Jason so there’s a man-management job to be done there. It will be fascinating to see how Steele reacts. Here’s hoping it’s the ‘sod you!’ and he sets out to prove AK wrong along with most of us here.
    I don’t personally think Williams is much of a loss to the back four. Apart from being such a shame for the lad, the biggest disappointment was two-fold. 1). We missed the chance to sell him and clear his high wages. 2). He was coming back into some form so, if he stayed, he might have been an asset again at last.
    If Omeruo is as good as we were led to believe he could be at least as good if not better than Rhys. The concern is that the Chelsea lads have yet to make enough impact to force their way into the team. After our last two results and the loss of Rhys, it will be intriguing to see if either starts today.
    Chalobah is decribed as a holding MF who can also play in defence. That sounds more like an out-and-out defensive MF, as opposed to the natural MF who can do a job of holding. If so, that is something we’ve lacked and promises to tighten the defence still further.
    Verdict on the defensive changes: GK weaker but, as a unit, the defence should not be weakened much and may well be slightly stronger.
    The forwards have had a wholesale make-over. It has to be said: it would be difficult to make them worse.
    Emnes had countless opportunities over years to prove himself and didn’t. He was fast, tricky and sometimes looked good. Unfortunately it was mostly headless-chicken flash and flattered to deceive. Poor in front of goal, he didn’t score or create enough to justify his place. Without his pace, he’d be as much use as a chocolate fireguard. My biggest fear is that he’s only loaned and, if he continues to flop, he’ll be back and be even harder to shift.
    I don’t know much about Tomlin (I’m not encyclopaedic like I used to be). He’s used to the Championship so should fit quickly – apart from being suspended. His goal record isn’t exciting but at least he seems to have come into a decent vein of scoring. I’m hopeful he’ll be an improvement on Emnes.
    Jutkiewicz was an indictment of Tony’s judgement. When he signed, none of could see it and we were left trusting that TM could see something nobody else could. Not for the only time, we were wrong to do so. Lucas’s record even in a lower division was poor. He had no obvious assets and it was impossible to see what extra he offered. The man was eager and willing, he was a tryer, but if he’d been free he wouldn’t have been value for money.
    Graham has been a non-scoring flop for a couple of years. But that was in the PL – perhaps this is his natural level. And he has done it – while never prolific, he has scored regularly until recently. He’s one of us so should settle quickly. He has something to prove, so he will hopefully do so by scoring the goals to lift us into the play-offs. I live in hope.
    He can’t be worse than Juke and there’s a chance, back on home ground and back in the Chumpionship, Graham could find himself and be a revelation.
    Meanwhile Kamara is back from injury. Until then, he was looking our best forward. He’s far from a great player but he’s the kind of personality good squads need. A personality with character and charisma, he’s a worker, committed and determined. He’s also adaptable in being able to play across the front line and he chips in with his share of goals. If only for his enthusiasm, his return will be a boost, especially alongside the new signings.
    The departure of Juke, Emnes and Williams is no loss. Neither Tomlin nor Graham offer undoubted strengthening so the jury is out. However both promise more than those they replace and, if they come off, could be big improvements. Add Kamara into the mix and this might be an effective forward line.
    Verdict on attacking changes: almost certainly better and might just be the big improvement that pushes us upwards. At least there’s a chance of goals.
    My overall assessment is that the management realises we have scant chance of promotion and so kept their powder dry. They needed to do enough to to maintain the forward momentum that had been established – there’s a chance of success in the play-offs that cannot be passed up – but mainly to build for the big push next season.
    I suspect that we’ll see the real wheeling-dealing next summer. Even more of a clear-out and our new contacts being worked to death, with a view to moulding the team to AK’s needs ready to hit the deck running for promotion. That’s what I see in the seconds before sleep.

  30. It is likely we can stop looking for hotels in London during May.
    The problem was always where we were starting from. It didnt allow us any mishaps.
    The form books would tell us that Leicester and Donnie away sandwiching Wigan at home were three tough games.
    Meanwhile Wigan are two points clear with two games in hand but the team in sixth is nine points ahead with only 17 games left. It will need a collapse from reading for us to catch them never mind the teams between us.
    I suggest those with foam tuck the gloves away for another year. The game was up with a point a match after twelve games.

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