Shot-stopping Scapegoat Steele Stepping Into Shay’s Shadow?

SHAY Given has left some pretty big gloves to fill. When Boro go to Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend the keeper will be playing under a massive shadow.
A staggering 10 clean sheets in 16 games with fans’ favourite Given in goal has raised the bar to Premier League levels. And raised expectations too. The shut-out success of Shay’s stay will heighten the intensity and volume of the stinging criticism that will be no-doubt fired in from all angles at his successor.
Welcome back Jason Steele.


Before the heart-breaking exit of our bromantic hero I asked him if his shot-stopping success had piled the pressure on Steele. “Pressure is for tyres,” said Shay, smiling enigmatically and side-stepping the inquiry neatly, showing he can handle potentially contentious questions as well as any awkward high ball in to the far post.
He added diplomatically that there was plenty of talent at the club, all the keepers were training hard and that whoever Aitor Karanka hands the jersey to will do a good job.
But there is no escaping that the next goalkeeper will be under almost painful scrutiny.
They will be very harshly judged against the Irishman for their technical competence, their command of the box and their organisational and communication skills with both team-mates and the crowd and will also certainly fall short on pin-up status.
And, if it is Steele in the spotlight, he also faces huge residual political pressure and an unjust historical charge sheet from a already sizeable regiment of terrace detractors with two seasons of scape-goat simmering under their belts.
Past performances were always viewed through a prism of caustic criticism by those who decided very early on he “isn’t good enough” and have no intention of being persuaded otherwise.
Now he will be measured against Shay and all comparisions are sure to be unflattering.
He has been consistently among Boro’s top performers in the past two seasons (he has been second behind Grant leadbitter in the past two Gazette star men table and the club Player of the Year awards) – and that in a position where there is no hiding place and where every costly mistake is magnified and remembered.
No matter how many games he has kept Boro in almost single-handedly (think back, there have been LOADS), no matter how many points-salvaging saves and blocks he has made as the defence collapsed in front of him, no matter how many opposition managers or pundits have heaped praise on him, the critics see only a nervous bundle of flaws who can’t kick, can’t deal with the ball in the air, can’t command his box and can’t organise his back four.
But he is ‘a good shot-stopper’ some of them they begrudgingly concede.
And ironically some demand he should to Liverpool or Sunderland or whoever is being linked at any given point and the £3-5m used to buy a “better” keeper.
They antis are already sharpening their barbs, nursing their pre-emptive anger with an agenda and spreading doom laden jitters through cyberspace before he has even gone to collect his first cross.
Now they will be able to renew their sniping but with added weaponry.
Now they have a whole forest of sticks to beat poor Steele with.
And statistics. Lots of statistics. Now their vitriol is practically science.
It seems some people are actually looking forward to the chance to barrack a Boro players and will relish a goal going in so they can enjoy their sport. There will be little room for rational, objective analysis when Boro do concede, as they will at some point – the stingy sequence can’t go on forever.
When they do, even if it is an unstoppable “worldie” or a bungled own goal with a clear culprit, no matter how complex the chain of causality it will signal open season.
“Shay would have saved that.”
But that is hugely unfair.
As Shay Given was quick to point out on several occasions, the number of clean sheets during his tenure came as much because of the shape and style and workrate of the team as because of his own individual displays.
Yes, he has put in some sizzling shows of acrobatics and agility that rightly deserve praise.He has pulled off a couple of unbelievable reflex saves from piledrivers (some after the whistle has gone but eye-catching nontheless).
He has delivered a master-class in the goal-keeping art and shown the kind of top flight quality we haven’t seen at the Riverside in years.
But while he has between the sticks the entire structure and tactical philosophy of the team has changed dramatically. When he arrived it was to a demoralised and disorganised team that had a fatal cavalier instinct, a team that habitually committed men forward in a bid to pass the opposition to death in their own half and frequently got caught on the break. Time and time again the Tony Mowbray mentality of expansive attack left the keeper exposed.
It was also to a team that had an in-built mentality fragility at the back, which was time and again ripped open by quick balls down the channels for wingers to run at full-backs still retreating after an attack broke down, which was caught in two (or more) minds when defending set-plays and which started to visibly panic as the Countdown music speeded up in the final few minutes.
That is why Boro had only kept three clean sheets all year and why the most common score-line of the season up to that point had been 2-2.
Not because of Jason Steele.
They scored plenty but leaked plenty too – primarily because of the way the team was set up. Porous Boro could have played with Iker Casillas, Peter Cech and Manuel Neuer in goal and still wouldn’t have kept a clean sheet.
Indeed, when Given arrived and before Aitor Karanka had time to stamp his own more conservative imprint on the squad, our hero was far from impregnable.
He kept a clean sheet in his debut – a 1-0 tactical strangulation of Bolton sealed by a spot-kick – but only because Jermaine Beckford sent a last gasp penalty screaming over the bar.
Then he conceded two at Derby and another two at Birmingham with the stoppage time Brum leveller at least partly his fault as he stood rooted at the post as two defenders watched Kyle Bartley nip in to score from a corner. Then followed a drab 1-0 home defeat to Brighton that took his leak rate to five goals in three games.
That is not criticism of Given. Far from it. It is just pointing to the obvious flaws that remained in a creaky defence. Leaking Boro were listing and drifting and, averaging just a point a game and in danger or capsizing.
But in the months that have followed the boss has systematically and consciously made Boro water-tight. And it has been more than just tweaks. It has been a far-reaching radical rewiring of the shape and mentality of the squad.
The full-backs, once given licence to bomb forward at will, are now required to apply in writing two weeks in advance with supporting evidence. The midfield has been re-engineered with two defensive minded anchor men breaking up attacks.
And the front-men are under instructions to close down the opposition as high up the pitch as possible, preventing the opposition building at their leisure, carving down the flanks or pumping diagonals into the box.
It has been a marked tactical success. It appears to have resolved the problem and made once brittle Boro incredibly hard to beat – although the front end now needs urgently addressing, as we know.
It is now a team with a coherent shape and style, a good platform to be built on and one that appears to still function whichever individuals come into the side. In recent months because of injuries, suspensions and new recruitment the team has changed from week to week every bit as much as it did under Tony Mowbray but results remain resolutely miserly. It seems no matter who plays, Boro still stay watertight.
It is that under-pinning work on the tactical foundations the rather than individuals has been at the root of the transformation that has yielded 10 clean sheets in 16.
Were it purely down to Shay Given we would have seen much more of him. Had he been playing behind the pre-Karanka defence he would have been left exposed three and four times games, have to make far more saves and had to deal with institutional chaos at corners. And he would have conceded goals. In 16 games, lots of them.
As it is, after the initially rocky spell of tactical transition, he has had very little to do. In some games he has largely been a spectator and taken advantage of lulls to do that stretching break-dancing thing to keep his creaky spine warm.
And that new rigidity in the team should make it far easier for the new keeper too. They will be taking up the gloves behind a far more well drilled and determined defence that keeps moments of danger to a minimum.
Should that be Steele – he admits there is more intense competition than ever before but for my money it should be – then he will find he spends far less time on crisis management and watching comic capers unfold in front of him and far less time shouldering the blame.
Not that the former first choice is guaranteed the shirt. He has only recently returned to training from ankle surgery and has yet to test his fitness and the boss has shown a reluctance to play people without a long spell of orientation to the shape and syle.
While he has been out Karanka has brought in Tomas Meijas from Real Madrid’s second string with a view to fostering more competition. Some have read that as the boss having made his judgement on Steele and found him wanting.
As the manager has only seen the keeper in action for 43 minutes before he was sent off at Leeds – trying to salvage the situation after a woeful header by Daniel Ayala – that would seem harsh and out of sync with his on-going policy of giving everyone a decent chance to prove themselves.
Far more likely that it means the end for short-term signing Dimi Konstantopolus and long time benchwarmer Jayson Leutwiler, both out of contract in the summer.
That would leave a straight fight between Steele and Meijas for the post-Shay shirt. And the boss is quite clear that he has no preconceptions and whoever trains the hardest goes in the team.
Many of the former England Under-21 man’s detractors will be rooting for the Spaniard.,. even though they have never seen him play. They would rather opt for 10 minutes for Real Madrid than three years and 150 games in the Championship. Strange
Others will want their scapegoat elect Steele to play. And leak.
They have six goalless games of frustration to get off their chests.
***THIS is the Gloves of Fate ft Butta Fingaz remix of this week’s Big Picture column

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27 thoughts on “Shot-stopping Scapegoat Steele Stepping Into Shay’s Shadow?

  1. Just to pour some unduly cool water on the Shaymance…
    .
    Bellamy, when he went to Cardiff from Citeh, (boyhood club I accept)he took a wage cut to go there. So all this talk of – there is nothing i could do to stay at Boro, it was out of my hands – isn’t 100% true. He could have suggested he take a pay cut to play with us.
    Now this may run into hundreds of thousands or half a million and more and who in their right minds would turn that down just to play football in the championship? Especially considering he is towards the end of his playing days.
    It might be foolish to even consider it.
    But it was an option, which wasn’t taken. It’s a harsh view, i know.
    Just saying he could have, that’s all.
    Come on Steele show us your worth, again.

  2. AV – You have made some very good points with regard to young Steele and I for one am happy for him to return between the sticks. Let us see what he is like behind a solid defence and maybe he will be pushing to replace Butland as England’s new young goalkeeping hope, but that’s in the future.
    You are right about certain so called fans who cannot wait for the first game we concede a couple even if the goals are defensive howlers, “Borowazzer” on the EG web pages springs to mind.
    Between now and the end of the season, will be a chance for AK to have a final look at the whole first team squad, to decide who to keep and who to try to move on. It is on that point that I wonder if you can do some research and list the squad stating how long they each have remaining on their current contracts. It would give the fans some idea of how much flexibility AK will have in the summer.
    I used to check the players profile on the MFC website, but now the club no longer lists when they signed and for how long or when they signed their last contract.
    When “Borowazzer” reported that SSN stated that Carayol contract talks had stalled last week because of his indiscipline I checked back through EG reports until I found when he signed for us August 2012 (for three years).
    With his contract having nearly a season and a half to run I cannot see MFC engaging in new contract talks until AK has made his list of who to keep, which I would imagine is not until the summer unless there is a player that he knows now he wants to keep and that players contract finishes in June.
    Come on BORO
    **AV writes: We have a list somewhere. There’s loads of contracts up this summer. Which is convenient.

  3. Not sure about Given playing in front of the defence (although there were times when poor Jason had to) but other than that, couldn’t agree more.
    Boro Doug, my entirely uneducated guess is that its a about £2M a year that Shay would have to give up to tear up his contract and join us. I agree with you that that is unrealistic and just wish people would consider that as they canonise Shay in weeks to come and the legend grows that he pleaded to stay but Keith Lamb (probably) heartlessly turfed him out.
    **AV writes: Shay Given has two years left on a £50k per week deal. That’s £5m. If he ripped up that deal to play for £10k a week at Boro he would be sectioned. Or demasculated by his wife. For players, even the nicest, most sincere and committed, football is a job. They are contractors who go where the work is.

  4. It’s actually probably not a bad time for Steele to come back – Boro are restricting opposition teams to only a few shots on target per game and everyone is still preoccupied with our goal drought at the other end.
    Since our season is all but over it also makes sense for Steele to get settled back into the team for next season – or at least prove his case to be our number one.
    But you said yourself he’s not got Given’s class and all-round game but that is not in our price range anyway so why kick up a fuss.
    I also don’t see the point in benching him in favour of a loanee or those heading for the exit – so it’s a case of Steele if fit for me.
    BTW I don’t think he ever got as much stick as Brad Jones did – except from the usual suspects who’s raison d’etre is to blame someone for any goal conceded.
    **AV writes: The tunnel visioned faction have always had major problem with keepers. I think it is just easy to point to their mistakes rather than think things through. Schwarzer was routinely roasted on phone-ins and in the letters pages of the Pink. He couldn’t kick, didn’t command his area and couldn’t catch a cold. Oh and he was disloyal too. Right up to his 11th year.

  5. Just to clarify gents I was refering to the remaing season not the whole contract. So a few months worth of cash not the full term.
    Why he would not give up 5m to join us? I have no clue. Players of today, eh?
    Wickham to Leeds. One who drifted from us this transfer window. Shame that.
    **AV writes: At his full wages he would have cost £700k up to the play-off finals (even if a deal could be done, which it couldn’t because Villa were insisting on full wages and a recall clause.) That will be one or even two players wages in the summer. That’s a big chunk out of the rebuilding budget.

  6. Before Karanka our defence was woeful, the defenders looked like school boys. I wanted shot of most of them, but not Steele.
    He was the only one of the back five who played consistently well pre Karanka, he’s a good keeper who with experience may one day be described as excellent.
    What he needs is for the Red Faction to get right behind him as they did for Given, that will give him a big boost. But he’s man enough and good enough for the job in hand, no question.

  7. With the defence being as mean and tight since Big Jack’s era there couldn’t be a better time for Jason to resume his role between the sticks.
    Despite the toothless and headless displays up front of late Given has had relatively little to nothing to do the last few games other than exercise to keep warm and alert.
    If Jason can get through a few games without having to pick the ball out of the net his confidence and self belief will grow and his career can make a fresh start. With a bit of breathing space, a new goalkeeping coach, a new collective defensive mindset and time to have watched and learnt from one of the best Keepers in the last decade I think we will see a more mature and confident Jason.
    That’s always assuming we don’t see Curtis in goal because he trains the hardest this week!

  8. I am going to post the gist of ancient post just to hack everyone off.
    We were winning 2-1 at Toon as we entered the last seconds of the game. They crossed in to the box and instead of clearing it Gate shanked it behind for a corner.
    We,as normal, got everyone behind the penalty spot as the corner came in. Schwarzer trapped on the line behind a full six yard box.Headed clear to a totally unmarked Lee Clarke on the edge of the penalty area. Shot drilled in through a crowd of players, 2-2.
    The posters view was that it was Schwarzer’s fault.
    Now for something different, Given’s wonder safe. If Steele had done the some thing and punched the ball before getting up it would have been criticism from the fans for not running out to tackle the attacker on the right hand edge of the box before selling two dummies on the way down the pitch before crossing to give us a two nil lead.
    He has two chances, one is fat.

  9. Look I Iiked Shay Given as much as anyone, but let’s have a little bit of realism here. He is on a Premiership wage and as pointed out he has a long term contract which only a fool would walk away from.
    Give Young Jason a chance, all our goalkeeping coaches have been in praise of him, we have never heard any poor comments about him and as far as I know he is rated by AK. Let’s keep off his back and welcome whoever plays I between the sticks on Saturday.
    Under the Financial Fair Play Rules it was always going to be doubtful to keep hold of Shay Given but let’s also give credit to our chief coach for making Boro so strong and hard to unlock UTB

  10. Steele faces competition from Tomas Mejias for the keepr’s jersey. Knowing Karanka, he will select an injured palyer only after he is 100 % fit.
    So my quess is that Tomas Mejias will start a few games next. And Steele needs to show in training that he is 100 % ready to return – and that he is better then the former Real Madrid stopper in training.
    So I expect Steele to return at the end of the March at best. That said, I really rate Steele and he will become an England international one day.
    It might help Steele that he is drafted in after Tomas – and not immediately after Given has left. That will keep the bed wetters quieter, too.
    Up the Boro!

  11. I don’t think that any of the current crop of Academy graduates have more potential than Jason Steele – a quality young keeper with games under his belt and a big future if he’s determined to take it. I get the feeling that training is more intense than ever at Boro. Everything is in place for potential stars like Steele to flourish.
    We’ve seen plenty of changes in personnel in the back four with little difference to the collective solidity. I expect similar results with Steele taking the gloves.

  12. On a wider note than than Given/Steele, it brings into question the need for so many loanees for the remaining months. They were clearly important to strengthen the team when there was a chance of the play-offs. However, barring miracles or disasters, this season has clearly gone.
    Consequently it seems to me that the remainder is about preparation for a push next season. AK has a few safe months in which to assess the squad and decide who he wants to retain.
    IMO he needs to use this period as an extended trial, especially if a lot of contracts are conveniently up in the summer. If so, where do the loanees fit in? We might sign one or two in the summer but, otherwise, they are unlikely to be here next season. So why play them at all?
    Thinking it through, I can see 3 reasons.
    1. Momentum and confidence. It’s a lot easier to make a successful start if you finished the previous season well. It’s also much easier to sign good players if that club has just finished in the top half and look a propect for promotion.
    2. Judging players fairly. Players generally play better alongside good players. AK needs to decide who to move on based on their performances in a sound team rather than assessing them while struggling in the midst of no-hopers.
    3. Imprinting the pattern for next season. It is crystal clear that AK is no tinkerman. He has set tactics that he has looked to establish from day one. That pattern of play needs players of the right calibre to get it established. As Woody observed when coming back into the defence, once that foundation is laid, players can be swapped in & out with little disruption.
    Therefore, as I see it, the remainder of this season is about laying the tactical foundations, assessing who can contribute to that next season and achieving whatever we can this season to take forward into next. All of this needs the best players we can get, including the loanees.

  13. Jarkko –
    I think it’s a bit different for keepers being 100% fit as they wouldn’t normally break sweat during a game – I imagine for them training is far more of a physical workout than an actually match.
    I see some of the overspending clubs are now contemplating legal action over the imposing of FFP sanctions by the Football League.
    I don’t think they will have much joy as these were the competition rules at the start of the season – I could imagine a far greater legal action if they succeeded by those who adhered to FFP and missed out on promotion because they couldn’t spend more on players in order to comply with these rules.

  14. I just hope Steele (if he is first choice) will maximise the opportunity he’s had to watch Given from close quarters. I hope he has learned to be more vocal and be a leader in the 18 yard box, after all it is his territory. Knowledge is power!
    Given would sprint towards a referee or linesman like a screaming banshee if he disagreed with a decision. I for one hope Steele will have taken that in. But good luck nonetheless and he will benefit from a confident stable back four. They will feed off each other..

  15. AV –
    An excellent synopsis of the Steele situation.
    All clubs fans are fickle, and no disrespect intended, the most vocal shouting for heads, a new Sheik or whatever, will tend to be the younger less experienced ones in life.
    The majority on here I believe are older and therefore more forgiving, willing to wait and see.
    I think Jarko could be correct in his view of Steele having to wait a little longer for a game to benefit him.

  16. Personally having seen Given play for the past three months there’s a lot to be gained for having an experienced keeper between the sticks. Not only did he have great goalkeeping ability,his vocal and organisation skills were just as important to the team too. When Paul Robinson starred at the Riverside with Blackburn the same could be said about him too.
    Steele is a young keeper learning and doesn’t possess all these attributes but in ten years or so may turn out to be as good as these two. In my opinion the Championship is not a place to learn,mistakes can be costly,and there’s a higher price to pay if you are just missing out on promotion or the play offs,there is too much at stake and puts too much pressure on the player.
    For me we need a more experienced keeper and Steele needs lengthy loan spell at a lower league club to gain more experience with less pressure, I think it would benefit him in the long run and take him out of the spotlight,like you say a couple of mistakes and everyone will be on his back again.
    The “Joe Harts” of this world are a rarity and keepers usually only get recognition as they are heading towards their thirties.

  17. “The majority on here I believe are older and therefore more forgiving, willing to wait and see”
    I think that just about sums it up.
    Lets hope we have something to look forward to in retirement.

  18. Never Give Up –
    It is difficult for keepers as we have debated many times before.
    If he went on loan to a lower league club would the fans there be any better? I must admit I don’t know, in some ways a smaller crowd at a compact crowd can be worse.
    The fans are closer and more easily heard.
    Other young keepers can get a hard time, Butland has suffered as has the keeper you mentioned – Joe Hart.

  19. I’m not one for the adage of “If they’re good enough…”, the confidence of a young player can be very delicate and needs to be as carefully nurtured as his fitness or technical skills, but there comes a point where holding a player back arrests development and a myth seems to be in circulation that no keeper ever plays, much less blossoms, until he is in his late twenties.
    In my opinion, our two best keepers in my forty odd years of suffering, were Jim Platt who was 23 when we won promotion under Big Jack and Mark Schwarzer who was 25 when we signed him to go straight into the premier league. Stephen Pears was also 25 when we signed him permanently. Jason turns 24 this year and so is at a comparable stage in his development.
    Peter Shilton was on stand-by for the plane to Mexico in 1970 at 20 and his big rival Ray Clemence was an England regular by the time he was 25. Interestingly (well, it is to me), both survived howlers on the international stage that would have fans reaching for the tar and feathers today but went on to stellar careers.
    Both players took a bit of stick, but neither was hounded by press and public the way that say Scott Carson was. Maybe its us that has changed with wall to wall 24/7 coverage and having our opinions indulged through phone-ins and blogs?
    Keepers in contrast always have, and always will, make errors particularly when learning. Not that I think that Jason has made many and whatever he has should be off-set against the many occasions when he has as you say Vic been all that has stood between us and a hiding.
    In my opinion, if we were a PL club, I would be looking for Steele to be playing on loan at least at the level of a mid-table championship club at this stage in his career, he’s done his time at Northampton. Happily there is a vacancy at just such a club, I hope that the fans appreciate and support him.

  20. My post seems to get missing…
    Werdermouth –
    I agree that physically the keeper don’t need to so fit. But mentally, he must be stronger than most of the other palyers.
    I was trying to read between the lines as Karanaka said: “It’s important to have Jason with us again. He needs to regain his confidence after being out for three months and he needs to challenge for the position.” So Steele might have to wait before starting as Kamara has needed to do, too.
    Never Give Up –
    I think Steele is strong enough to play in the Championship. He has been to Olympics, too. So no need to send out on loan.
    That’s it. I think I have answered the whole family there 🙂 Up the Boro!

  21. I’m confident that Steele is perfectly capable of taking over from Given but less confident that Karanka will do the right thing and pick him.
    He’s more likely to curry favour with his old amigos at Real and choose Mejias. He’ll be hoping that giving him game time will please his former club and prompt them to lend us other fringe players in due course. Expect the two Chelsea lads to be permanent fixtures for similar reasons.
    If Steele does play unfortunately he will be unfairly compared to Given, who is after all one of the top 10 keepers of the Premier League era. Although, the remarkable love in between the fans and Shay is only partly down to his excellence as a keeper. It’s also because of what he represents.
    He’s a star from the Premier League who reminded us of our illustrious past. His loan spell was a short but tantalizing glimpse at our “Paradise Lost”. A connection to the big time which has been denied us for too long. It was like a fleeting glance at a pretty ex girlfriend who left us for a richer bloke many years ago.
    Steele represents the humdrum of the Championship. The low key ordinariness of our current plight. He’s a “Z-lister” who reminds us how far we have fallen. A physical manifestation of our fall from grace.
    Does not the disenchantment with Steele simply reflect the views many fans have of our club as a whole. They don’t have the patience to allow Steele to make mistakes and grow in stature. They demand a Premier League class keeper now just as they demand a speedy return to the top flight. We can’t afford either.
    Whoever plays in goal let’s give them a chance to flourish and not burden them, as we’ve burdened the club, with unrealistic expectations.
    **AV writes: I think you are right with the fact that Shay was a teasing cypher for a glorious past and Steele (or any other player) as a symbol of our current plight.

  22. Jarkko –
    I would agree that a player’s mindset is probably the most important part of his game (as long as his body is in shape of course).
    Also I think all the best keepers have authority that stems from a strong self-belief – for some that comes with age and experience but others are just born with it. So I’d always go for a pointy-shouty type as it will keep everyone on their toes.
    As for who I’d guess will start tomorrow – Karanka says four have trained well and if one of them is his signing, namely the Madrid B Keeper, then he well be stung into action – but who knows as Aitor has been a little unpredictable with team selection of late.

  23. Paulista –
    I agree with you about Given and Steele.
    To some extent Shay reminds me of It Ain’t Arf Hot Mum where Boro fans are Battery Sergeant Major ‘Shut up’ Williams and Given is Gunner ‘Parky’ Nigel Parkins.
    Any flaws or defects are brushed over not that there were many from Shay.
    Jason wont be able to do right for doing wrong. I hope he plays.
    Where I disagree with you is that I don’t think Karanka will have any favourites. It showed with the Chelsea players. Omeruo came in as last man standing despite his Chelsea connections.
    Chalobah was made to wait and to be fair it looks like he can offer more than Whitehead – a player who has improved under our new manager.
    The impression I get from AV is that he is fairly ruthless over his players. No train, no play. If he plays Meijas it will be because he has done well.
    I stand to be corrected but he doesn’t seem to do teachers pet. When Mogga brought in loan players the prospects disappeared in to the long grass.
    He wants to do well, Spanish football will look at the results and the table not if he played someone from Madrid. Madrid fans might take an interest just like we do about Adam Reach, Richie Smallwood etc.

  24. Well I bet AK is regretting joining this club. I reckon if he does not get financial backing in the summer he will be off.
    The current batch of players are rubbish. Curtis Main,should be playing non league football,he is rubbish and the longer you stay in this division ,the harder it is to get out, unless you have financial clout. It is not looking good for MFC, unless serious money is injected into the club .

  25. AV:
    I appreciate it’s a long way off but what is the club thinking for the front four next season?
    Carayol is still on the naughty step it seems. Will he be allowed off? At £100k purchase there is profit to be made and goals to be lost selling him.
    Juke – out on loan to restablish a selling price and he is scoring. (£600-800k asking price?)
    Marvin – out on loan to show how talented he is when given a bit more space in the top league. (price depends on contract, £0-800k?)
    Butterfield, Kamara, Adomah and Tomlin are in contract. Main I think is in but i am not sure. Ledsema, probably not in contract (guessing). Luke Williams, nice record for the books, but goodbye or very cheap one year deal.
    We, as every Championship team needs, (urgently) a free scoring front man. McCormack was the plan and what a great one it would have been for this season. Budget wise he will be off limits and possibly out of this league (transfer not promo).
    So what will the plan be to fix the lack of competency in front of the tiny white sticks next year?
    Becchio? Two years older now not played much, Norwich in the Championship next year anyway?
    Danny Graham – my bet is a promoted Championship team take him, too expensive for us.
    What is the solution/master hidden striker for us? We need one!
    **AV writers: It’s early days but I think it will be all change in the summer.

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