Vossen and the Void: Fans’ Jitters At Silence

WHERE ARE we? What’s happening? Why aren’t Boro signing people? How can you NOT have Vossen in the bag when he is practically crying like Neymar in a press conference and begging to be released from his Genk nightmare?

Buying footballers is not an exact science. And it is certainly not like any other transaction. It is not a case of Steve Gibson doing a trolley dash round Player 4 U, throwing two strikers, a right-back and a dynamic midfielder with  a big bushy beard and then getting his card out at the check out. Cash-back sir?

Of course it could be like that. Boro could go out and blow their entire budget tomorrow. But they wouldn’t necessarily get the players they want.  That takes time. It takes long and difficult wrangling to win over players, clubs, agents, brothers to the move. And girlfriends. Everything has to be right to win players hearts and minds.

And it is not just about money, although that is important. Given the shifting finances in football and the tightening screw of FFP this could be Boro’s last big chance to build a team capable of making a serious challenge for promotion.  And Steve GIbson is ready to give it a crack. It could be the last chance to spend money and make a difference. They have to do it properly rather than quickly.

Now, they could go out and say to Genk: “alright, we’ll split the difference and give you £5m” … but that could be the whole budget. And then what about the problem at right-back? What about another striker? What about the creative midfielder? What about cover at left-back?  What about the players they are trying to bring in from Chelsea? A trophy signing now to appease people who have got themselves into a frenzy (over a player many people haven’t even see play) could ruin a carefully researched shopping strategy.

Vossen is a player Boro are keen on. He is a long term target has been endlessly scouted for the past two years. There will be a dossier as thick as a Harry Potter novel on Gibbo’s desk. They deal came very close last August and after the talks that took place then the player like the people at Boro, likes the set-up and believes he would flourish here. He has told Genk he wants to leave and Boro are his first choice destination. In that sense Boro are pushing at an open door.

Likewise Danny Graham. He too has indicated  he would like to be at Boro next season and Sunderland are ready to cut their losses and let him go for a very reasonable £1m. Both of those players are ‘on the back burner’. The groundwork for those deals are done and they can be pushed through quickly if need be and if/when finances allow.

But Boro have other targets they want to secure first. Who could be better than Vossen the ITK mob cry?  What does that even mean? Better in what sense? Better stats on Championship Manager? More goals in Belgium?  Better as the demanding focal point in a 4231? The important thing is that the players who come in are the best possible fit with the style Aitor Karanka wants to play. They have to fit exactly into his system, they have to fit his philosophy and methodology. They have to buy into the project.

The manager has identified his priority targets and the club are trying to get them. That seems to me to be a responsible strategy. Targets can’t be crowd-sourced.  They have to be players who the manager wants, who have the skill set and mentality to take part in a promotion push. And they have to be in the order he want them. If he doesn’t get Player A then they may not get the best out of Player B so Player C could suddenly become the better option.  It is about building the best possible team. That is all that matters.

That has to be done carefully and to a plan. The club want the best possible players they can get that tick as many of Karanka’s boxes as possible but within a limited budget . They want players who offer value for money and will have a resale value but who also have the ability to deliver now.  They are strict criteria.  It is not easy.  You don’t just flick through the brochure. There is no “buy now” option. Unless you want to or can afford to pay over the odds that is.  These things take time.

Yes, that time ticking prompts dark fears for once bitten Boro fans and brings with it echoes of previous failures, or targets that drifted, bids that were hi-jacked, bids that were gazumped. It is counter to a fan’s natural instinct but  we have to be patient and let the professionals get on with it.  The manager and chairman are not fools.  They have to make the call.  And they are under far more pressure to get it right than we are. And they are trying very, very hard to do that.

I can only tell you what I have been told from on high: there are several options being pursued simultaneously and the club believe some of them are now reaching a conclusion. They are not the names that are all over the press – although the club are keeping those channels open and those possibilities alive.  Which is sensible.

My understanding is that their top target has been to Rockliffe and loves it.  He has had talks with Karanka and is impressed. Both camps have broadly agreed in principle and while the deal needs a bit of fine-tuning, they hope to conclude it “soon”. Hopefully in time for the player to join up with the squad in Marbella. No names, no pack drill.

Let’s hope it is done quickly. Then we can start fretting about a right-back.


TYPICAL…. write something urging patience then the phone goes to say the deal is done.





86 thoughts on “Vossen and the Void: Fans’ Jitters At Silence

  1. Am I reading into your capitalization too much AV, or are you dropping subtle hints with the ‘AN Other’ mention. Are we looking at strikers with the initials AN? ANO?

    Wouldn’t have thought much about it, but you dropped it in twice….

  2. Matt A –

    Perhaps UEFA have decided that £50 million from PSG for David Luiz is punishment enough?

    Based on this World Cup I wouldn’t pay £50 quid for the headless chicken.

    With regards to Barcelona I’m sure there will be a “Big Club” clause hidden somewhere regarding FFP. UEFA will no doubt save the example for a non descript middling club somewhere sometime in the future.

  3. So, Lionel Messi was awarded the award for the player of the tournament at this years World Cup.

    Presumably, this award was decided by some people who haven’t actually bothered watching any football matches in the last month, but are very familiar with his ‘best bits’ for Barcelona in the last few seasons as highlighted on Youtube !

    In entirely unrelated news, Messi, Neuer and Rodriguez, the recipients of the three major personal awards are all contracted to Adidas, the ‘Official Partner’ of the FIFA World Cup 2014.

    That was lucky…

  4. I enjoyed the short article on John O’Rourke in the EG this morning. I saw him play for Boro at Loftus Road the next season after promotion standing with the QPR supporters. I don’t remember the result, it’s an age thing, but it was an evening match and the QPR supporters were all saying ‘buy him’ and ‘what a pity he isn’t two inches taller’.

    The wife-to-be and I came down from Newcastle to see that Oxford match, a great evening.

    AV, wasn’t Ron Atkinson playing for Oxford?

    What new signings will we see this week? Will we go back for Varga?



    **AV writes: Yes Ron was Oxford captain. His brother Dave was also playing.

  5. Smoggypaul,
    As far as the Boro is concerned I believe it’s the trabant of optimism and the train of pessimism – one of those rusty hulks that traverse India with half the population hanging off the roof, only in our case it travels at the speed of a Japanese bullet train.

  6. Hey AV , are you off to Spain with the boys for a week with your feet up, laapy on your lap!!? You need to be there to interview the new boy(s) and keep us up to speed!

    **AV writes: No, Phil T got that gig. Apparently it is Boro “news” and I do Boro “opinion.” In my opinion I should be allowed to go too!

    1. Didn’t he get that gig last year too? And the year before? And before that….. etc etc etc. He does have a lovely tan though.

      **AV writes: Yes, he puts up a flimsy argument that it is actually his job. #Technicality

  7. Regular reader, irregular poster but thought I’d join the new wave of pre-season introductees, if that’s even a word.

    Looking forward to the new campaign, a lot actually – nothing to be scared of in the teams that have come down in my opinion, Wolves would be strong you’d expect but there’s no reason Boro shouldn’t compete at the top end of the table. But then there never is, is there?

    On the transfer front, I’ve not heard of Kike and his scoring record before last season suggests we may have overpaid….. but if you can’t have faith in the manager at this point of his reign, when can you?! Karanka looks like he knows what he’s doing to me so hopefully he can come good – and we’ll get a few more in too.

    I know AV will be in his lederhosen today and if Germany’s success shows nothing else, it’s how far working as a team and as a unit will get you. For too long Boro have been largely incoherent; I hope I’m right in thinking it looks like that might finally be changing.

    **AV writes: Yes, I am raising a stein to the Weltmeisterschaft.

  8. So its official AV ‘only’ does opinion! Surely in order to form an opinion you need to be at the coal face to see what’s going on. Perhaps we can have a whip round on the blog to get you an Easyjet flight out to Spain, you could pick Clayton up and give him a lift.

    If the size of the Riverside crowd increases in proportion to the number of new bloggers this season then Gibbo will have to dust off the plans to expand the Riverside to 40000, I’m lovin it.

  9. Yet another long time reader, first time poster here…it’s getting a little crowded! Don’t normally do rumours…but AV, do you know (or are allowed to say) if there’s anything in the Manquilo rumour doing the rounds? Another one AK will know from the Spanish youth set up, and with a fashionable vertebrae injury a la Neymar?

    **AV writes: I’ve never heard of him. We have been inundated with rumours of Spanish names this weekend. I think the ITK crowd are just plucking out the names of anyone who was ever in the Spanish youth set-up with Karanka and looks good on Football Manager.

  10. Very optimistic about the new season. Matt A looks like a blinding signing. Just the kind of middle of the park creativity and perceptiveness that we need. BoroLad99 likewise looks very solid, and with great young prospects like TheTeesTease and many others also on board it looks like we will have an exceptionally good season.

    But, gentlemen, do not let us get too carried away about the Boro’s prospects. I have yet to see any on-field evidence that we are anything other than a pretty boring middle of the table team, with a manager who is doing his best, has some pester-power over Mourinho, but who has only recently come around to acknowledging the importance of the point made articulately here over a number of years by Paulista Park’ that we need a solid core of proven Championship performers to make real progress.

    Hignett’s appointment seems to have helped Karanka to better understand the peculiar culture of the Championship. It is worrying, however, that Aitor still lacks the linguistic fluency that early reports suggested he possessed. I have yet to hear him say anything in English that is actually intelligible, let alone coherent or inspirational. Have a look at the latest Gazette video for a typical example. It would be comforting to see some actual evidence for the apparently widespread hope and belief that he is the man who can motivate the team to reach greater heights.

    No such worries about inarticulacy on this blog however. A great new season beckons. I’m looking forward to it.

    **AV writes: Lots of new signings…. but can they do it on a cold, wet February night in Blackpool? We’ll see.

  11. First time poster on here but always keen to read fellow supporters thoughts and ideas. My personal thoughts for the impending season is one of optimism, I sense like most that our Saviour Mr Gibson realises its now or never in terms of transfers… I do like the targets that we are currently in for and think that they will improve the team.

    AV what are your thoughts on those who will be leaving us? Is it a case of Steele , Butterfield , Whitehead , Kamara , Main all to be sold?? Halliday to be backup to George?? Hopefully when I go to the Villarreal game our first 11 will be pretty much there and we can see an improvement from last season…. Forever the optimist!

    **AV writes: Obviously it depends on interest from others but it seems that Kamara, Smallwood and Butterfield are all available. I’m sure they would entertain bids for a couple of fringe players like Hines, Halliday and Main too. I’m not sure what they would be with Steele. I understand there has been no interest in him.

    1. Thanks for the feedback AV and seems as though the chiefs have pulled another cracking deal with the amount for Juke! With regards to Steele I can see it being a deadline day deal as with fringe players and more than likely loan deals…

      On another matter.. It is well documented of the good ties you and the boro have with each other in terms of transfers and up to date news. Has there ever been a potential transfer which has stunned you but never made it over the line and that we as fans have never heard about?

      **AV writes: Yes, loads. That sounds like a feature for another day.

  12. Len –

    I wouldn’t get too het up about Karanka’s English, I suspect he is far better on the training pitch than when facing the microphone and trying not to trip up – unlikely as it may seem, there may be journo’s who are not wedded to the sanctity of veracity.

    He certainly seems able to articulate things like – defend or be dropped, no train no play, my way or the highway, the naughty step is over there.

    I believe Pochettino speaks decent English but chose to do interviews with an interpreter

    Lest we forget http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlUb8jt0WP0

    Maybe more is less, it appeared Mogga had everyone confused and he is from Teesside.

    I am more optimistic about this season than the previous couple. I am certainly happy with the new blood on the blog – I wonder if many are coming here because of the restrictions on the Gazette site.
    Maybe if you get enough hits you can go to Marbella.

    I remember a company I worked for banning overnight stays for meetings. Some of us drove from the north for a meeting near Exeter. We spent the meeting listening to our boss telling us he was unwell, blaming the lobster in the hotel restaurant the night before.

    This was the same company who downsized company cars except for directors and senior managers whose cars moved from Carlton’s to BMW’s etc. This was at the same time as building a swish new directors office block next to the employees car park. Oddly they were surprised when the staff were not happy when they stopped subsidising the staff social club because of cost.

  13. AV just wondering, when a new blogger signs up do you get a ‘bung’ a la George Graham?

    **AV writes: No but I get to keep their souls so I can sell them on the Dutch side BL Zeebub.

    1. I sold my sole to the Boro years ago……..but then I suspect BL Zeebub doesn’t give a damn about third party ownership.

  14. 1. Genk nightmare? A little respect for the club Genk its never been or will be a nightmare for Vossen.

    2. If you know Vossen his skill then you know that his place on the pitch is after a strong striker, its a striker with a killer instinct always on the right place in the box, two years scouting and a fan of Genk must tell this.

    Best regards.

    **AV writes: Tell us more….

  15. Great to see KiKe in through the door. First choice, he wasn’t nabbed by another team at the airport (him not flying into the UK to sign would have helped on that front), stat wise – there is nothing like the FM stat page to put you at ease as you sign someone you have never heard of. 20 plus goals last season. He could be maturing nicely into the bountiful striker we need.

    Sell Emnes plus Juke get some change back plus a boat load of wages. Plus I assume we would have been paid loan fees for them last year to help the kitty total increase on them.

    On the RB front, risking the loan wrath argument, papers saying Carl Jenkinson of Arsenal could well be looking for a years loan experience. Whilst I am sure he would prefer to stay in the Prem can’t hurt to ask can it?

    Still looking for the RB. If Kamara leaves or stays, I still think we need another striker. Clayton through the middle with probably two bodies leaving from the current squad to let him come in. I think we need a versatile RB/LB to cover both flanks and to push Friend and the RB. I would also like to see another winger come in. Carayol is injured, Adomah has little to pressure his starting position. Ledesma is a bit hot and cold, plus a shade lightweight at times, great FK though. Main not really a winger, Williams and Reach – see how they return in preseason, Kamara – needs a get well card. Lots of bodies not a huge amount of proven standout quality to replace or push Carayol and Adomah.

    AV – is the game on Wednesday confirmed in Spain? Some local jungle drums saying it isn’t or it might move venue if it is. Any news on this?

    **AV writes: Oh, I don’t know. Phil will. I’ll ask.

  16. Len, I think Karanka’s English is easier to understand than that of Strachan. And it makes more sense on the training ground, too I presume. Up the Boro!

    1. If Karanka is looking for a tip then I find my german improves with every beer I drink. I’m a kind of linguistic Bill Werbeniuk (though minus the girth). Whether Aitor will be seen in the middle of Hurworth with a glass of Rioja in his hand shouting “give it some welly Ledesma mate” remains to be seen – perhaps he’s not ready for the Gazza school of management just yet.

      Though I agree with your Strachan point – it must have felt like the player’s had their Mirror quick crosswords confiscated and substituted with The Times cryptic version when he was uttering his pearls of wisdom.

      Anyway, not long to the start of the season now that the Weltmeisterschaft has been won by Merkel’s Mannschaft – imagine if England win in Russia and Milliband was PM, he’d probably have to ask Putin why has everyone jumped on top of each other in the centre circle.

      Well at least I can stop pretending I don’t follow football when I drop my son off at kindergarten in the morning – “oh, was there a football game on yesterday, who won?” #innocentface (I think you tweeters would say).

  17. Confirmation that the Juke is on his way to Burnley has finally arrived then.

    A fee rising to £2.25M is well above expectations really. It looks like the reported £1.5M will just be the down payment. Unfortunately of course, the rest is based on performance. As I expect Burnley to struggle this year and the Juke to finish the season in single figures, we probably wont be seeing much of the remainder anytime soon !

    With another striker departing though, the squad is certainly looking very light for the time being. I expect at least one more departure as well, with Butterfield and Kamara looking the most likely.

    Interestingly, while Phil and Vic (in their new article on the website) say that the deals for Clayton and the un-named striker are likely to happen soon, it seems that the right back slot is no nearer to being filled. We have NO right backs, but have a couple of strikers and a plethora of midfielders. I’m not convinced that the priorities are entirely correct there if I’m honest. After all, there are a hell of a lot more of them about than if we were looking for a left back for instance. It should not be all that difficult really.

    Lastly: £2.25M for the Juke. I don’t know how much they pay Neil Bausor, but in this deal he has played a blinder, as they say in football circles. He has definitely earned his wage this time.

    **AV writes: My understanding is that they are currently in tentative talks with two right-backs with a view to getting one or the other signed by the time the team are back next week.

  18. Ah, ok Vic. The article read like the other two were pretty much nailed on, while the right back was still very much up in the air. Probably just my reading of it though.

    I cannot imagine Mr Karanka is happy about playing three friendlies without a recognised right back mind !

  19. Matt A

    The squad balance is a legacy of the Mogga era. His baggies team couldnt score or defend but the midfield windscreen was spotless.

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