Boro BustIng Some Shapes Up Front

EYE-CATCHING movement, some intricate footwork and plenty of energy.
No, not Albert Adomah busting some impromptu moves with the Yeovilettes, although our foxy flanker’s twerking on the whistle was certainly entertaining.
His spontaneous, smiling gate-crashing of the home side’s end of term awards earned rave reviews in Somerset cyderspace. But then, everything about Boro did. The Yeovil fans and club staff were gracious and friendly and full of praise for the Boro taking 1,300 fans on a 700-mile, 10-hour round trip for an early kick-off in a dead rubber and for the atmosphere the Parmo Army generated in their last Championship game.
And even though they had just been spanked 4-1, they didn’t take offence at Albert stealing the show as the video went viral.



It was a fitting end to an afternoon of sun-kissed, sexy football that deserved a wider audience. Like Albert and his post-match posse, Boro had some excellent rhythmic co-ordination and well-drilled moves to please the crowd.
Boro were shaky at times at the back but they had plenty up top as they finished the season with a flourish.
It was a fitting end to an afternoon of sun-kissed, sexy football that deserved a wider audience. Like Albert and his post-match posse, Boro had some excellent rhythmic co-ordination and well-drilled moves to please the crowd. Boro were shaky at times at the back but they had plenty up top as they finished the season with a flourish.
In “typical Boro” fashion a lot of the talk in the aftermath was about which of Danny Graham’s two open-goal missed sitters will scoop the Golden Banjo award for the worst of the season. And that’s fair enough, both were comical barndoor/blunderbuss slapstick masterclasses worthy of any blooper compilation
But that would be cruel and pointless. Boro won 4-1. And Graham actually had a great game. He worked hard, he punched holes in the Yeovil defence with powerful runs, he held the ball up well, he terrified the opposition keeper as he closed quickly, he dropped deep, he linked up superbly with Lee Tomlin and he scored one and helped tee up two more. That’s not a bad day’s work.
There was a nervous start to the game: Seb Hines twice dropped early clangers as he tried to remember what to do, Daniel Ayala misjudged a bounce but wriggled off the hook as the Yeovil striker got clean through but then stumbled and Jason Steele fumbled a cross under pressure and was relieved to see the loose ball spooned over.
But once Boro settled into the game and started to press forward with incisive flashes of creativity there were sparks of potent power that offered plenty of promise for next term.
In particular the burgeoning relationship between Lee Tomlin and Danny Graham was a delight to watch. The instinctive interplay, the mutual movement and support and the vision in picking out runs speaks of long hours on the training ground that is finally starting to bear fruit…. although it does throw up a massive question-mark as Graham’s future is out of Boro’s hands.
When they both arrived on deadline day the moves raised eyebrows and led to some background chuntering.
Graham was getting splinters on the Hull bench after a frustrating six months loan spell.
It followed an equally under-employed spell at Sunderland. In the year before he joined Boro he had scored precisely one goal, and that inevitably was against his former club Swansea.
He was ring-rusty, unaccustomed to the pressing aspects of the role Aitor Karanka had him pencilled in for and had a lot to prove.
Boro had almost signed him the previous January and were ready to put together a hefty £5m package but he went to Sunderland instead and his subsequent year of firing blanks left many thinking we had dodged a bullet.
Not least when Lukas Jutkiewicz, squeezed out on loan to Bolton to make way for him in the team and in the wage budget, started to score goals
Likewise Tomlin arrived to cause some raised eyebrows. He had come from a lower league, arrived with a three-match suspension to serve and on his first few cameo outings looked sluggish and seemed to be carrying a bit of timber. There were cruel jibes about sponsorship deals being lined up with Greggs. And when his loan deal was quickly converted to a £1.5m real deal a lot of people asked if the money had been wisely spent.
The pair had arrived at the start of what was to be a club record goal drought and the doubts deepened as the pair failed to break that. Spurned opportunities, mis-timed runs, stumbles over balls in good positions, dead certs poked weakly wide. It wasn’t great.
But they were both learning the nuances of a new system, feeling their way into a rigid framework and trying to forge partnerships with the strangers around them.
And, it must be said, it appeared that both were trying too hard and getting frustrated as Boro’s long ice age of impotence stretched out over eight full games and 12 hours. The pair, signed to solve the problems up front, took some caustic criticism from increasingly edgy supporters as the situation seemed to be getting worse.
Now, just a few short weeks later, they look the kind of potent frontline that can give Boro a cutting edge next year. They look like the kind of frontline that could fire Boro into the promotion stakes. And they look like they are enjoying it.
dannyLee.jpg
Graham went six games without netting after announcing his arrival with a laboured, lost-looking display at Doncaster and one weak shot that bobbled wide.
But since getting off the mark with both goals against Ipswich he has looked sharper and hungry, a much more productive part of the team. A good fit. And, importantly, since then he has scored six goals in 13 games.
A strike rate of almost one in two is a fantastic return in the Championship and if he could manage to do that over the season he would be that most mythical of beasts, the 20 goals a season Boro striker. That could make him a crucial component of any tilt at the top.
Tomlin, too, is a good fit. He is powerful, direct, aggressive and determined. He set up the winner at Burnley with a snarling application of a Half-Nelson on a defender as he barged into the box to tee up Jacob Butterfield for the goal. Flashes like that, and the wild passion of celebration after his goal against Birmingham have nudged the portly poacher towards cult status.
But he “can play a bit too”. At Yeovil he showed a string of silky touches to carve open the defence. For his goal he burst towards the advancing keeper then pushed the ball past him with a deft little flick before darting in to steer home from an angle.
And his cheeky touch through a sluggish marker’s legs to surge into the box and draw the keeper to square for Graham (who somehow spooned wide) was an instinctive moment that showed guile and vision.
And he, too, has found some teeth. He went eight without a goal in a shaky start as he came to terms with the intensity. But, since getting his first to cap a commanding and spirited display in the 3-1 win over Birmingham, he has scored five in six and looked like a constant threat. There are early hints of Hendrie about him.
Tomlin has the potential to be the key man in Boro’s armoury next season, the tabled No 10 that makes Karanka’s 4231 shape work.
Two months ago most Boro fans probably thought Graham was shaping up to be a flop and were keen to quickly despatch him back to Wearside and resume the frustrating seasons long search for a prolific frontman. Now most would probably think securing him is right at the top of Aitor Karanka’s “to do list” for the summer.
Getting the front-line right is the key to making Karanka’s systen work and it is the one area the club are likely to push the boat out in the summer recruitment. Graham has certainly put in a convincing CV for the role.
And he is out of favour at Sunderland. They would be open to him leaving. Especially if they pull off a Great Escape and stay up. Poyet will want to bring in his own people and will be keen to shift his wages. Boro, especially if they flog Lukas Jutkiewicz to willing buyers Bolton, could cover that. But will there be a fee? Or other suitors.
But certainly should he sign now Boro fans would be far happier with what they were getting than they would two months ago when he looked ungainly and shot-shy.
Similarly Tomlin. Two months ago most thought he was well short of the standard required and a lot of money wasted. Supporters are quick to judge like that. Now he is seen as a popular and potent player vital to next term’s prospects.
The fledgling relationship – or one similar to it – can make the system work. And if Boro can do that and continue their current form, August can’t come quickly enough.
This side, still a work in progress, has finished with six wins out of eight including wins over promoted Burnley and play-off hopefuls Derby and Brighton. The last few seasons have fizzled out in the final few weeks, this one has burst into life. Now there are more reasons to feel more optimistic on signing off now than for years.
No wonder Albert was dancing.

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41 thoughts on “Boro BustIng Some Shapes Up Front

  1. You may well be right about Graham and I might have to change my verdict.
    Jarkko’s enthusiasm for him had already made me pause for thought. Although it could be a flash in the pan, Danny’s six goals in 13 games is not to be sniffed at – especally in a middling team that were hardly burgeoning with confidence.
    Mind you, I still don’t get it. Graham somehow scores despite himself. Although he works his socks off and puts in a lot of running, some of it productively penetrative, I see little pace.
    Also, despite his size, he seems far too easily shrugged off the ball. Every time I’ve seen him he has been useless with his back to goal, failed to hold up the ball and has been easily robbed. He’s not technically gifted and is no dribbler.
    So I’m left thinking: what does he bring? If the answer is going to be goals, the rest pales into insignificance, especially if the mutually productive relationship with Tomlin continues to develop as it has over the last few weeks.
    I also had doubts about Tomlin initially. Podgy and slow, he seemed lost. However he won me over much earlier. While hardly elegant, he’s strong, awkward and determined. He’s also deceptively tricky, links up well and shows some good flashes.
    However neither Graham nor Tomlin on their own are convincing. It’s the combination that bodes well. If the rate of scoring continues, and especially if Boro do well next season, you can see this pair bagging over 30 goals between them.

  2. AV –
    Stato says its 17 starts and 1 sub for Graham. 6 in 17 is decent but not as sexy as 6 in 13.
    Chris Eagles – out of contract – Championship seasoned pro. Likely to be looked at by us? I think he’d be a good addition to the squad for the wide and attacking areas.
    **AV writes: Yes, but I think I said that after the eight game goal drought was broken he has scored six in 13. Which is not bad.
    Not sure about Eagles. He was great four or five years ago but now he is just another one of those inconsistent wingers who only show one game in three and we’ve got a few of those already.

  3. I agree with your appraisal of Tomlin and Graham and it has got to be our priority signing this close season. I don’t care if he misses two as long as he keeps scoring and doesn’t let his head droop.
    I think the fact that he is living on Teesside settled down with his family and playing in a team that seems to want him, he will be realistic with his wage demands and we should sign him.
    Ashamed to say I completely forgot about Andy Halliday I thought he went permanently! Which brings me to my ins and outs.
    In:
    Graham
    Varga
    Omeruo
    Chalobah
    Given
    Smallwood
    Reach
    Luke Williams
    Out:
    Halliday
    Juke
    Emnes
    Steele
    Kamara
    Woodgate
    Rhys Williams
    Parnaby
    Hines
    Leutwiler
    Obviously the Boro scouting team will have their eyes on cover at left and right back to bring in but, that’s my grenade to throw into the discussion on the retained list!!
    Fat Bob

  4. It all ifs and mayby but lets say we could get £4m for Steele, Juke, Adohmah and Emnes with savings on salaries too,I would bid for Murray and Gayle at Palace,
    Sorry Ive started early

  5. Great to end the season with an emphatic win to add to the five in the previous seven games.
    There can be plenty of optimism for next season but that should be tempered with the realisation that, as was pointed out on the previous blog, Karanka’s impressive start has largely mirrored his predecessors albeit with fewer goals at both ends.
    Graham is far better than he’s been given credit for by most in my opinion and if there’s any way we can responsibly sign him we should. I don’t see any great difference between his ability and, say, David Nugent at Leicester. Nugent just has the considerable advantage of undented confidence and a better team around him that creates more chances.
    Moving on to the annual summer rebuild, while I don’t believe anyone is irreplaceable I will divide the squad into four categories: Keep, Re-sign, Sell/Release and Not Fussed:
    Keep:
    Dimi, Steele, Friend, Gibson, Ayala, Butterfield, Leadbitter, Adomah, Tomlin, Ledesma, L Williams, Reach, Carayol
    Re-Sign:
    Varga, Omerou, Chalobah, Graham
    Sell/Release:
    Leutwiler, Ricardson, Parnaby, Halliday, Emnes, Jutkiewicz
    Not Fussed:
    Meijas, Ripley, R Williams, Hines, Woodgate, Whitehead, Smallwood, Kamara, Main
    A couple of questions:
    1. If Karanka has come to the same conclusion as Mowbray – that cheap, untested, young foreigners are not the way to go in this league – where does that leave the recruitment plan involving Kenyon and Mendes?
    2. If Karanka is heading recruitment where does that leave the Director of Recruitment/Head Coach plan?
    A summary question of the two above to finish: Have we done yet another about-turn on long-term strategy?

  6. I posted yesterday, but it disappeared.
    I really enjoyed our day out in Yeovil. Friendly chats with welcoming locals; a very good turn-out from Boro fans despite the distance and the non-significance of the game; great craic between the standing Boro fans and those in the seats (left side/ right side red army); and a very good team performance – absolutely no sign here of any Boro players being on the beach – we played with pride and passion.
    I thought almost everybody played well, with the possible exception of Chalobah, who is the only one of the loanees I wouldn’t miss if he didn’t come back next year.
    Our defence was generally very solid, despite a silly lapse for their goal. Dean Whitehead had one of his most effective games in a Boro shirt. Perhaps the best aspect of the game was the way the front four (or was it five?) played together so fluidly and fluently, interchanging at will. We cut Yeovil open tons of times. Tomlin, Reach, Butterfield, and Adomah all had good games.
    Danny Graham at last showed that he can play as the focal point in a 4231 system, despite missing two horrendous sitters!
    And Ledesma was a complete revelation! What a fantastic bicycle kick for his second goal. He was my MoM, but it could have been any of several others. If we can turn on this kind of style next season we can have reasons for optimism. Nice, too, to see the lads giving away their shirts and boots to youngsters at the end of the game. Ledesma even gave his shorts away and had to dash back to the changies in his undies!
    I’d like to thank you, AV, for everything you have done for us this year. Your journalism has been marvellously informative and insightful, and always of very high quality. You have written superbly about all things Boro. I hope you win every award going. Have a really good summer.
    **AV writes: Yes, everyone have a good summer – but less of the talking as if we are knocking off now for a few months. No chance. There’ll be plenty to talk about. Karanka wants to deal with his out of contract/wantaway players in the next fortnight, then we have the play-off and implications for next season, then the fixtures are out, then it is the World Cup and suddenly we are off again.
    I might pull the shutters down for a few days early in June (possible warm weather family training and bonding exercise planned) but apart from that we never sleep! You have to give 100% every day. This is my philosophy and methodology. And for this we are happy.

  7. AV, I’ve just posted my Yeovil comments on the previous thread. Please could you transfer them to this one? Many thanks.

  8. Nikeboro –
    I wasn’t that impressed with Graham after seeing the matches against Millwall and Reading recently. But he was better against Barnsley. I just wanted to say he has scored a few recently and could score 20 goals a season on this level.
    In the three matches I saw, Adomah was more like a passanger (OK he make the goal for Tomlin when injured against Barnsley) – and still he was asked if he leaves for the PL soon. Crazy world in football. Hero one week and useless the following as we think about it.
    Up the Boro!

  9. I have a degree of optimism for next season unlike before the one just finsished (for us that is).
    I trust the bloggers are not going to disappear, the players will be going away with instructions ringing in their ears about keeping in shape. We cannot shut up shop and expect to hit the ground posting. By all means enjoy family time but keep in trim.
    Thanks to AV for giving fans from all over the chance to chinwag about all and sundry.

  10. I think Andy R’s point is a good one, if Karanka wants to concentrate on bringing in new recruits that are British where does that leave the much vaunted recruit in Europe strategy?
    As for shutting down for the Summer, you must be joking, what would I do all day at work……….
    **AV writes: I’m not sure much has changed in terms of the overall strategic thinking although Karanka’s idea of the skill set he wants may have shifted with his experience over the past six months.
    The scouting network is being expanded steadily and targets are drawn up and discussed all the time within the club by the coaching/scouting staff so they always have a strong group in mind for every position and within the parameters of cost, age, availability and possiblity of getting a good future resale price.
    The club are still very much thinking of getting a few very good VFM bargains in from lower leagues, maybe promote a couple of the Academy lads to the fringes and then bring a three or four good quality year long loanees next season to add to the core. The phone calls are probably going to be Chelsea first rather than Real or Atletico though I think.
    For all the dark fears at the time I don’t believe the idea was ever to “swamp” the team with cheap Spanish imports or people from Mendes contacts book. Anyone who thought Gibson was a patsy is very mistaken. The intention was always to use to their network of contacts to find the odd real gem rather than as the main recruitment tool. I understand the scouting network is still clocking up air miles.

  11. As for ‘outs’ and ‘ins’ from the perspective of needing to raise some cash and having players that best fit the system, I’m pretty much with Fat Bob, although I’m not sure about Chalobah and I dont think we need Given.
    I’d definitley like to see Varga here permanently and Graham if possible. I wasn’t sure about him at first but he’s got a head of steam up now and might just be the man who leads the line back to the Prem!
    Out; again as with Fat Bob except I’d keep Steele and retain Woodgate as a player/coach.
    So there we have it, all Karanka has to do is get his list off this blog, tell them all who needs to be back for pre-season and head off home for a well deserved holiday!

  12. The reality of FFP is that Championship teams without parachute payments are unlikely to sign players who have the ability to be match winners on their own.
    What Burnley have shown at this level is that it’s all about creating the best team and not trying to bolt on a few ‘stars’ to make up for the inadequacies of the rest.
    To be fair to Karanka, I think he has realised this at an early stage and has established a work ethic and the nobody gets preferential treatment approach – either you perform for the team or you’re out of the starting eleven.
    I agree with others that Boro are a bit short in some positions and a bit more leadership on the pitch would give us more chances next term.
    Though I’d expect Karanka to reap the benefit of his first pre-season and get the team ready from the off – the loans will probably be crucial and hopefully they’ll not start drifting in towards the end of August.

  13. We need to avoid disrupting the squad too much in the summer so I’d limit the signings to 5.
    Danny Graham and all of Viva Pitch.

  14. I put R Williams, Woodgate, Whitehead and Kamara in my “Not Fussed” category.
    For those who want them out I think we have to accept that due to the lack of value for money they would represent for a prospective buyer, it’s highly unlikely that anyone is going to purchase them. Given that they are players who are all good enough to feature regularly in our match day squad however, it’s equally unlikely that we’ll pay them off. By far the most likely scenario for them is that they’ll be with us until their contracts run out.
    Karanka has said that he wants a squad of 22/23 players. I think he meant senior (or at least guys with 10+ games to their name) outfield players – roughly two for each position.
    Bearing in mind who is saleable/releasable, I would say that the bulk of next season’s (outfield) squad will be Friend, R Williams, Gibson, Ayala, Woodgate, Leadbitter, Butterfield, Whitehead, Adomah, Carayol, Ledesma, Reach, Tomlin, L Williams and Kamara.
    That’s 15 players, with others like Main and Hines also more than likely retained given their lack of options.
    I suspect that efforts will be made to resign Varga, Omerou, Chalobah and Graham, so that’s 21 players already. If Karanka has liked what he’s seen of Smallwood than that’s 22.
    That suggests to me that there won’t be significant transfer market movement in the summer for us. In fact, most of our dealing will be in trying to tie down the returning loanees and flogging one or two others. The writing is certainly on the wall for Richardson, Parnaby and Halliday.
    Selling Juke and Emnes will probably come down to whether we can get Graham back again, unless of course an easily acceptable offer is made for either (£1m?).
    Personally, I don’t want to see wholesale changes. Not because I think we’ve already got a great squad, but because a huge turnover of players rarely results in rapid cohesion. We don’t want a three-month bedding-in period. That is another reason to go and get Varga, Omerou, Chalobah and Graham again.
    Let’s get them back, do everything we can to offload Emnes and Juke, and bring in one or two players of substance. Omerou and Williams can both be acting cover for Varga at right back, Gibson and Reach can possibly do the same for Friend at left-back. If Smallwood is kept on, I think we just about afford to concentrate our recruitment on attacking areas – a striker and a wide player.
    That may or may not be enough for a serious promotion challenge, but I think in light of FFP it would be a sensible and realistic summer agenda.
    **AV writes: I think Hines and Main are out of contract so will be released. The situation is complicated by the injury to Rhys Williams and Carayol, both who looked set to be flogged before they got crocked. There are hints that Jason Steele will be allowed to go and Kamara looks set to return to the US if Boro get an offer (I think he will certainly go on loan to get back to fitness).. And I even think that Albert would be available if they got a good offer. Goals or not, I’m not sure he is consistent enough for Karanka.

  15. Quite agree with AV comments above. Also I don’t think we will see too many changes. I think Aitor said three or four new playes recently.
    One thing nobody has mentioned, though. I think we should have two good players per a position, right? So why not try to re-sign Graham and KEEP Juke? We cannot go to the new season with just one striker. Of course this will mean Kamara leaving.
    Also I hope to see Steele and Dimi as the GK pair at Boro next season. Jason just need to win his place back. Up the Boro!

  16. AV said: “And I even think that Albert would be available if they got a good offer. Goals or not, I’m not sure he is consistent enough for Karanka.”
    If Albert is not consistent enough for Karanka – and I agree that he isn’t consistent – then the same must be the case for Ledesma and basically any of the kids. An awful lot of players at this level struggle with that, indeed for many it is what makes them Championship players rather than Premier League squaddies.
    That would be sad in my opinion. I would prefer to see the manager work with his better players to improve them than give up and move them on.
    Marvin is a different case. He’s had many chances under different managers and failed to find consistency. He is also a very high earner.
    I didn’t realise that Hines and Main were out of contract. They can move to the “Release” category as neither have quite shown enough to earn a place in a squad with ambitions of promotion.
    That opens Jarkko’s possibility of retaining Juke, though I would guess that his wages might prohibit other signings. I’m not sure we can afford a £10-15k player on the bench.
    Kamara is an interesting one. He played well and looked a decent goal getter before his injury. Since his return he has never played up front. Perhaps he just doesn’t fit with Karanka’s system. A shame for him and a little harsh but if that’s the case then we should look to offload him.
    All of that perhaps adds up to allowing three or four new signings as well as the returning loanees. I wouldn’t want any more than that.

  17. FFP seems to be upsetting some with Man City getting punished. Interesting to see if UEFA can make it stick.
    We neednt worry about the validity of sponsorship deals.

  18. What’s all this terminal talk of ‘see you next season’? Where is everybody going for the next few months? This is often the best period for the blog, when it is uncluttered by actual performances and real life results. This is when we can dream of next season, usually before harsh reality brings us back to earth.
    Actually, come to think of it, I’m off for 10 days (quick break in Spain with the apples-of-the-eye grandchildren). See you soon.

  19. We can always discuss England’s performance in the World Cup, after all we are all used to disillusionment and disappointment.
    In fact . . . . I’ve always maintained that being a Boro supporter is no different to supporting England, I have wept over both.
    Although, Boro had two ex-players on opposing sides in one final I watched with made loyalties a bit strained….
    On balance I was pleased with the Boro finish and it just goes to show how a play-off place is probably within most teams possibility until the last few games of the season, so roll on next year!!
    UTB and COB

  20. Bloggers are right, this is the time to get excited about who we might sign who we have seen at Rockcliffe or meeting at the Tontine.
    Roll on the World Cup. Interesting to read about supporting Boro players on opposite sides. I remember going to Newcastle to watch an England v Scotland U21 match and cheering on Mills, Maddren and Souness oh happy days!
    Let’s bring on some more happy days and encourage the fans back next season
    Fat Bob

  21. Great end of season result. Still very positive about next season.
    I don’t think the squad needs too much tampering with if we can get Graham back.
    Reach seems to be a much better player after his loan spell.
    Emnes needs to move now while we can get something for him and Williams but i dont know if he will be sold as he will have to have some game time for the shop window.
    All in all really looking forward to next season and will be home for some live action next year.

  22. PP –
    When I said I thought we needed leaders on the pitch I wasn’t really thinking of cheer leaders – though Adomah did seem to link up well playing in the middle of a Viva Pitch diamond and it seemed like he might score at any moment.

  23. Completed the keep or not quiz and came up needing only a few players for a 23 man squad for next season.
    Up front and left back were the main areas but that doesnt mean there couldnt be other movements.
    I must admit several players were kept on the basis dont get out for the sake of it, if someone better became available so be it. There were also a few young fringe players kept who havent broken in to the squad or had a chance yet so maybe that means a couple more in.
    I suppose I didnt do the quiz properly

  24. Presumably Sunderland staying up significantly increases the chances of us signing Danny Graham permanently.

  25. Play-offs start tonight and as Derby are in them it brought back memories of us moving to Derby. I was putting up curtain rails as Leicester beat us and condemned us to the play-offs.
    The much younger wont remember the first play-offs. They operated differently in that the winners of the league went up automatically.
    Second placed team played the team in third place and the second bottom team in the top flight played the fourth placed team. Games played over two legs.
    The winners of both games then played over two legs.
    It was a great system for the top flight club because you would expect them to come through in that situation.
    I believe we were the only lower league team to get in to the top flight that way. Beating Chelsea as well. Shortly afterwards the current system started.
    There was football before the premiership.

  26. Have a look at Britt Assombalonga on SKY playing for Posh in the upcoming Div 1 play-offs, 32 goals in 52 this season. If Posh don’t make it through he might get itchy feet but could we afford him? If we don’t hang on to DG we will likely need to go into the lower leagues for a replacement.

  27. At last, the FA seem to have brought some form of unity to the game. They have had a general thumbs down for their proposals.

  28. Terrible to think there is no match tomorrow for Boro.
    Any idea when we get to speak about the retained list? Any time soon or do we need to wait until June?
    Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: Karanka wants to sort it all out before he goes on holiday next weekend.

  29. If the FA get’s this B team league pushed through there’s a lot of questions to be asked…
    1. Which 10 Premiership teams?
    2. What about Category 1 Academies that are not in the Premiership? It could render all the good work of these Academies as a waste of money.
    3. What about the 10 teams in the Conference that will effectively be relegated to make way for the 10 Premier B Teams?
    4. What about non EU players in relegated Premier teams that will have to be sacked?
    It’s item 2 that most concerns me though.
    I must admit, I haven’t read through the full proposal and maybe some of my questions have been answered seeing as though these people must have thought this through….

  30. We’ve debated on here many times the need or otherwise for a 20+ a season goalscorer. Informed opinion suggests they are rarer than rocking horse manure yet there were four strikers this season who scored 20 or more in the Championship.
    Burnley had two of those. Ross McCormack being another, clearly if he’d done the right thing and come to Boro he would be playing in a team competing in the play-offs. It strikes me 20+ Championship strikers aren’t so rare.
    Ian –
    I wonder how much Greg Dyke paid consultants to come up with the ‘innovative’ idea of creating a ‘League 3’ for prem reserve teams to play in? I wonder why banning non-EU players is okay for the Championship and below but not the Prem….
    Another load of old tosh from the FA, but hey no surprise as they currently compete with the CO-OP for the most incompetent organisation in the UK award.

  31. Nigel Reeves:
    You have 8 guys scoring 20 or more this season in the league. They are common as muck now a days! Enough for one every 3 teams although Burnley got greedy with two.
    Ross “badge Kiss” McCormack -29
    Rhodes – 25
    Deeny – 24
    Ings – 22
    Grabban – 22
    Martin – 20*
    Nugent – 20
    Vokes – 20
    *joined through playoff goal
    There must be room for Boro to get one or be greedy and have two!

  32. With all the permutations of which players will remain and who will be on their way is beginning to sound like a major upheaval lays ahead this summer – especially if the club struggle to regain the services of the loanees that represented nearly half of Karanka’s first choice 11.
    I’m not sure whether the club can satisfactorily bridge the gap of Graham’s PL wages given he’s still got two years to go on his Sunderland contract – let alone any fee.
    Also Omerou sounds like he’s thinking that he’s ready for the step up to the PL and his agent is pushing for a bigger deal – if it comes off how generous will Chelsea be in paying most of those new wages if he comes back on loan?
    As we know it’s not always easy to offload unwanted players so if Karanka is looking to build a kitty we may well see players sold who many would rather stay.
    So I’m sure the team that starts the first game of next season will be a lot different than the one that finished this one. Perhaps only Friend, Gibson, Ayala and Tomlin are certain – but even that may change if a very good offer came along.

  33. Nigel Reeve –
    You should always include ‘other incompetent organisations are available’.
    One of the odder consequences of the finger in dyke proposals is that you could have a league with all these teams, where they occupied most of top places but are barred from promotion. Teams 4, 7 and 10 get automatic promotion. Team 12 plays team 17, team 14 plays team 16 in the play offs.
    AV –
    When you say next weekend I presume you mean by Friday 16th.
    **AV writes:: Yes.

  34. I’m sure AV will be writing about this but for the bloggers who haven’t access or the time or the will to read the FA report on B Team proposal, here’s some juicy bits to occupy your thoughts while you’re waiting for the Cricket season to finish..
    Apparently the entire report was written without the benefit of an irony detector device.
    The FA comission members were..
    Greg Dyke (Chair), Roger Burden (vice-chair), Greg Clarke (Football League chairman), Rio Ferdinand, Dario Gradi, Glenn Hoddle, Roy Hodgson, Ritchie Humphreys (Chair of PFA), Danny Mills, Howard Wilkinson (Chair: The League Managers Association).
    Complementary to the existing loan arrangements and the B teams will be the Strategic Loan Partnership (SLP).
    Under this proposal, Premier League and Championship clubs would be entitled to establish SLPs with up to two clubs in divisions below the Championship.
    So as well as a B Team a senior (Prem) club could lend each lower club up to eight players in a season, although only five could be on the team sheet at any one time.
    ‘We believe a transfer of funding from the top clubs to those in the lower leagues would be appropriate as a counterbalance for the radical change proposed to their structure.
    A new ‘settlement’ to support the financial sustainability of the lower leagues could also be supplemented by a programme designed to incentivise lower league clubs to play English footballers, funded by the Football Association.’ Page 16.
    ‘The loan system is not only used for player development by Premier League clubs. Loans are also used to showcase players who are likely to be sold, or simply help defray high player salary costs for those players who are unable to get into first team squads.’ Page 43
    4.1.1 Guiding principles for the development of solutions
    ‘We must do nothing to impair the European prospects of our top football clubs or reduce the attractiveness of the Premier League overseas.
    Proposals must not damage (indeed they should support and build on) the English football pyramid and in particular the strengths of the Football League.’ Page 58
    4.1.2 History of change and development in English football
    ‘Some people believe that English football should be preserved exactly as it has always been and that history bears out the success of this stance. There are even still those who believe the creation of the Premier League was damaging to English football despite the fact that it has become the most popular, successful league in the world.’ Page 58
    ‘B teams would play in stadia, most likely a small stadium built expressly for the purpose or at a nearby lower league club’s stadium.’ Page 65
    ‘There could be a later option of enlarging the new League 3 to 24 teams, depending on the number of Premier League clubs that eventually wanted or became eligible for a B team.’ Page 65
    ‘The reorganisation of the league system could allow the introduction of a universal three up, three down approach across all four leagues. It could also allow a reduction in league size, if that were desired.’ Page 65
    ‘B teams would not be able to play in The FA or League cups but it may make sense for them to be able to play in an enlarged Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.’ Page 65
    ‘Similarly, there could be concerns raised over League 1 promotion if a situation arises whereby the clubs occupying one or more of the playoff and promotion places are B teams who are unable to be promoted. This perceived issue, though sincere, should not be overstated, as experiences in Spanish, German and other leagues with B teams don’t support it. This situation has never happened in the current league structure in Germany and has only happened twice in Spain since 1994-5.
    The idea that B teams would automatically fill all the top places in the lower leagues or cluster together in one league isn’t borne out by the experience in Germany, Spain and other countries with B teams. [see exhibits [24a] and [24b]] Even so, we propose there should be a review of the B team system four years after its introduction.’ Page 67
    ‘The current limit of 10% on the equity ownership of one club by another might be extended to 25% if this were to bring greater financial stability to the junior club. This is a matter for the Football League to decide.’ Page 69
    **AV writes: This is a non-starter. And it is a political disaster for the Commision and for Greg Dyke. The FA Commission claimed to be interviewing and inviting submissions from all significant stakeholders” before their report … but did not include either fans (the Football Supporters Federation or Supporters Direct) nor – incredibly – the Conference that they are ready to emasculate and downgrade. That means it lacks any credibility or awareness and shows crass and amateur political incompetence.
    The plan appears to be opposed by the vast majority of Football League clubs. If they vote not to accept promotion from “League 3” then the whole thing is dead in the water. It is anyway to be fair. The backlash against the cack-handed and arrogant proposal means it will be impossible to push forward.
    It is similar to the whole surreal ‘Game 39’ fantasy: ill-conceived, logistically impossible, totally devoid of sporting integrity, with a disregard for supporters and with no feel whatsoever for the historical or cultural significance of the game.
    This has holed Dyke below the waterline. The FA is supposed to be the body that looks after the interests of the whole game yet this blueprint appears willing to swing a wrecking ball through a pyramid structure 100 years in the making and shatter the precarious balance of the bottom 50 clubs just to give the Premier League clubs the chance to extend their stockpiling of talent by proxy. It shows the FA is the lapdog of the big clubs and has no regard for the vast majority of clubs or fans. And is run by political illiterates.
    Stoke B v Hartlepool (at Crewe) (att: 213)? No. I don’t think so.

  35. Looking at CroydonBoro’s post and AV’s comment I would suggest that the FA should consider the fact that the Championship is the fourth best supported league in the world, League One is tenth (I think) and league 2 15th (I think).
    In other words the football league leagues should be treated with respect. Greg Dyke has cocked up big time here, he was supposed to be the neutral who was going to put the FA on the right track. He has failed.
    English football has been hijacked by foreign owners who don’t give a damn. If Greg Dyke wants to learn how the game should be run all he needs to do is go to Germany. It’s not difficult.
    **AV writes: Yes, he’s looked at Germany with one eye shut. He’s seen B-Teams playing lower in the pyramid but missed the 50+1 rule that puts fans in control, safe standing, the emphasis on training young coaches and well structured grassroots football.

  36. “The idea that B teams would automatically fill all the top places in the lower leagues or cluster together in one league isn’t borne out by the experience in Germany, Spain and other countries with B teams. [see exhibits [24a] and [24b]] Even so, we propose there should be a review of the B team system four years after its introduction.’ Page 67”
    This has to go down as the biggest own goal of the season (with the possible exception of Kuszczak’s). If the aim is to improve the game by giving B teams more competitive football for the greed sorry good of the Premiership teams then why have the B teams in Spain and Germany been so spectacularly unsuccessful in their lower leagues?
    So what exactly would be the point of it given that their own above statement actually proves the worthlessness of their folly?
    Perhaps Mr Dyke would prefer a wall built around Manchesterpool extending though the Midlands encircling Greater London. Teams like Newcastle, Southampton, Sunderland and Norwich etc would either have to relocate or forfeit promotion or perhaps invade and take by force Milton Keynes Dons to be accepted into the FA’s “new Premiership”.
    Burnley of course would have to relocate as Turf Moor is so last century. They could rewrite football books Orwellian style and remove any references to Finney, Mortensen and Mannion, the 1953 Cup Final never happened, Jack and Bobby would be re-written as Eastenders.
    You would hope that Mr Dyke and his cronies would have come up with the idea of capping Premiership squads to say 50 players including reserves and youth. The rest would then have to find gainful employment elsewhere like League 1 or 2 or the Conference. Some may make the Championship or perhaps a less fashionable Premiership team.
    In fact when I think this through, some may even prove their abilities at this lower level and get sold for largish sums thereby allowing the riches to be distributed to these lower “life blood” teams who could then survive and bring through another star in the making.
    These “life blood” sides could even be in “FA Serfdom” towns like Northampton, Torquay, Hartlepool, Carlisle or Lincoln. This would bring football hopes and dreams to the unwashed outside the walled Kingdom of the Premiership.
    Just imagine the likes of unfashionable footballing areas like Rotherham, York or even Gateshead giving their fans enjoyment. Just imagine extinct sides like Accrington, Gateshead and Wimbledon and even maybe some day Darlington once again rising from the ashes. True football clubs with true fans daring to hope. Nah far better to kill all that tosh because who wants to watch that garbage when you can have Manchelskiarsepool for breakfast, dinner and tea all packaged for handy consumption in a glorious Hi Definition satellite induced subliminal message box.
    No Giantkilling Cup runs, Wrexham would never have beaten Arsenal in ‘92, Ronnie Radford and Hereford never to be repeated, Young Arry’s Bournemouth beating Man Utd in 84 was just a bad dream, Barnsley having the temerity to beat Liverpool at Anfield and then Chelsea at Oakwell in the next round. Anyone remember struggling Scarborough getting a financial life saver plum home draw to Chelsea?
    When I was a boy in school many years ago I learnt about inbreeding in science classes and the long term effects it has on development and consequential genetic disorders. Perhaps the FA, Mr Dyke and his cronies need to study the effects of inbreeding, there again the irony and inevitability would probably be lost upon them.

  37. The theory that B teams wouldnt cluster together is fine. Life is full of things unlikely to happen that fate stubbornly allows to take place.
    The sheer fact it is possible is reason enough to raise concerns. Imagine Chelsea B made up of all their spare players out on loan or sat at Chelsea. The heirachies at Chelsea, ManU, City et al are too brand concious to allow their B teams to struggle.
    A simpler proposal is to cap squad sizes including those who can go out on loan.
    Reward teams for home grown players and that doesnt include someone snaffled from Barcelona at age 16.
    It was good to hear Scudamore expressing concerns about the pyramid. Whatever we think about the Premiership they have fought against the EU competition rules to ensure we don’t have money distributed as it is in Spain.

  38. So the FA are concerned that there aren’t enough english players coming through – Unfortunately Greg Dyke’s proposal has confused the symptoms for the problem.
    What Greg Dyke is attempting to do is to solve the problem of PL clubs accumulating bloated squads by actually giving them two B teams – one in the ‘Conference’ and another proxy B team in Leagues 1 & 2 through the 8 player loan system in the strategic partner initiative.
    For example, a club like Liverpool may form a strategic partnership with let’s say Tranmere and loan them eight of their fringe players – but at what point does Tranmere actually cease to be in charge of it’s own destiny as Liverpool start to have greater influence in footballing decisions like who the coaches are or even the manager and style of play?
    In addition, Liverpool will also be allowed to have a B Team in the new League 3, which means overall they could be developing around 30 players that are not part of their actual PL squad.
    It basically gives the top clubs a licence to hoover up even more talent to service their B Teams and proxy B Teams – And what about the fans of clubs like Tranmere? Do they then become assimilated as a proxy Liverpool fans too. Also are the big clubs then obliging their fans to turn up to B Team games as they take on a greater significance.
    I also don’t think the PL chief executive Richard Scudamore will be in favour of any plan that aims to increase the number of English players in the top tier. Since the PL wants to market itself for as much money as possible throughout the globe, then it’s actually in their interests to have as many foreign players of different nationalities as possible.
    If the FA was serious about having more English players in the PL they should enforce a rule to have a minimum number in the starting 11 (4 or 5?) but I doubt they actually have the power to supercede FIFA, UEFA or even the PL.
    Which is probably why they have decided to fiddle around the edges at the expense of clubs who have now even less prospects of ever making the PL. Many young players have been given the illusion that they are top quality and expect to be paid accordingly – which has essentially priced out the clubs at the level they should be playing at while they learn their trade.
    The problem for the majority involved in football is that the mobility in the game is mainly downwards in order to keep the elite at the top.

  39. If Hines would be released, who is our longest serving player in the 1st team?
    I think this shows Boro’s biggest problem since relegation. We shop and change most of the players every summer and wish we hit the ground running the following season. It has not worked.
    So I hope we re-sign Danny Graham, keep Juke and sign two full-backs. And promote Bryn Morris to midfield and keep Adam Reach. And keep the core of the current team (Emnes, Richardson, Parnaby etc. can leave).
    Please, do not make too many changes for the sake of it. We need continuety.
    Up the Boro!

  40. Roy didn’t phone me yesterday and as I don’t do social media I am going to use this forum to announce my retirement from international football.
    I was disappointed at not even being put on stand by but understand that Roy wishes to move towards a younger group of players.
    I wish the lads all the best at the world cup and look forward meeting up after the quarter finals.

  41. Are we all sat tapping the desk waiting for Aitor to publish his retained list? I don’t suppose he’s going to say who he doesn’t want even though they’re still under contract. That’s the most interesting part as well.

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