Friend, Husband.. Rover Joyed At New Partnership

I WAS smashing up bits of kitchen so I didn’t hear the incoming text beeping. It was only when I stopped for a very English tea-break 15 minutes in to my tile-cracking that I checked my phone:  1 message from  Steve Gibson. Oh no, what have I done now?  I haven’t  even been in at work this week. I’m blaming Phil.

It was just a quick one, outlining the news that Boro had agreed a £500,000 deal with Doncaster left/wing-back James Husband, an athletic young lad with bags of potential. They had scouted him extensively last season and despite Rovers being relegated he got rave reviews.   It was similar CV to the one that George Friend arrived with.  I tweeted it quickly and the follow up story was on the Gazette sharpish too. This 24 hour rolling news operation stops for nothing. Besides, it’s too hot to rip tiles off.


Naturally the news was greeted with the usual cocktail of default Boro reactions. From the realistic “he’s no world-beater but sounds like a good one for the future, we needed cover at left-back”  to “why are we signing a useless left-back from a relegated side when we need a top international right-back” (as if the club only work on one target at a time) via  the occasional  dip into dark conspiracy:  if they are signing a left-back surely that means George is being flogged?  It’s the only possible conclusion.

Sharp-eyed Boro fans were quick to spot a pattern developing: After signing Friend then Husband from Rovers it has started to sound more like a relationship status update than a scouting process.  I’m scouring their junior ranks now for players called Withchild, D’Vorryce and Singleton.

Husband was linked with interest from Premier League Hull earlier this month so clearly he has caught the eye. Stories suggested they had opened talks before switching tack to sign a more ready made option. Barnsley were also said to be interested much to the anger of Rovers fans who see that as a downward step.  Wigan and Wolves (do those two operate as a tag-team hustling Boro targets) were also said to be keen but never firmed any interest up. And Rovers were keen to keep him but as he entered the last year of his deal knew they were in a weak position and would probably have to cash in.

It is interesting that all the ITK gossip sites (and even some parts of the media) that spend their days two-plus-twoing and guessing at links based on whispers on other forums never came up with this name. That seems to show that the club is far more watertight now on real targets.  The Spanish backroom staff don’t have as many friends and family desperate to recycle snippets as the Teesside dug-out did.

The signing is another small part of the building process. Boro have needed cover at left-back for years. Not “cover” I’ve been reminded. Karanka doesn’t do “Cover.” He wants every single person in his squad fighting tooth-and-nail for a first team shirt. So this is much needed competition of the sort that George could have done with at the start of last season when he dipped well below par at times.

The lad can play as a wing-back too so either he or George could slot into a more advanced role that could be useful in the absence of Muzzy and Manny.  And Rovers fans – who seem to rate him highly and think we have got him cheap – report that he has occasionally played at right-back too , although hopefully we won’t see that.

Last season’s injury to George forced Aitor Karanka into an uncomfortable looking tactical rejig for the first time and although Boro mugged Burnley in a backs-to-the-wall display with three at the back it was clunky and  nerve-shredding stuff.  Cover at left-back was one of the gaps identified by Karanka back in May along with a specialist No 9 to play in the formation he favours and he has signed Kike to play that role.

That leaves a right-back and a No 10 to sign. My understanding is that Boro are currently working on options for both those positions and they expect movement on several fronts next week. One is said to be “very close.” Of course, I’ve been saying that for a week. But that is what I am being told from within the club and I have no reason to disbelieve that. The Kike deal was a similar long drawn out process of haggling and cross-border fine-tuning .  It is more important that Boro get their signing done correctly than quickly.

So what do you think? A hint of tactical options to come? Much needed competition?  The first of a flurry of signings? The exit door for DJ Andy Halliday?  Have nursery club Doncaster got anyone else we can nick?







75 thoughts on “Friend, Husband.. Rover Joyed At New Partnership

  1. AV,did I here or read somewhere that the Family Zone,was sold out?

    To Mat

    12 games @ 30 is 360 , a season card would cost an Adult (less for concessions ) another what, between, 70 -90 quid,and you get another eleven games for about eight quid a match,I understand availability etc,but then again if we get into a promotion push,you would probably want to enjoy the last few games.

    I still have a hard time understanding the apathy with many Teesside folk. I guess its always been the same. I wonder what happened to the 30,000 that where at the Port Vale match for the rebirth

  2. I’m going “Refresh” mental over here, I’ve got the England v India cricket game on Sky on Refresh, I’ve also got the SS Transfer Centre on Refresh as well as the Blog in case I miss something! Oh, here we go again, “Refresh”, “Refresh”, “Refresh”, mmm, nowt new……. yet!

  3. I wonder if Boro have increased matchday tickets to give marketing more scope for offering discounts throughout the season without undercutting the season ticket price per game.

    I’m sure the club probably know that tickets are price-sensitive and in reality a sustained increase in attendances are mainly dependent on how successful Boro are on the pitch.

    **AV writes: I know them have gone all kinds of number-crunching on all kinds of permutations of pricing models. I think we have to assume that the one they have come up with is the one that generates the most in income while protecting the season ticket base. I think the “unknown” in this, Gibbo’s gamble, is how many additional bums-on-seats they will get if the team takes off, wins games and creates a bit of a buzz. He’s ready to put money in for players and risk going above the FFP ceiling in the hope that success attracts crowds.

  4. Football in England is unbelievably overpriced. I’ll be at theBoro- Birmingham game and it will cost me more then twice as much as a ticket for Schalke – Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. And my Boro ticket doesn’t include free public transport to the game. Why is this? Are the players/agents earning too much?

  5. As “overpriced” as tickets for English Championship football appears to be in comparison to top league football in other countries – in reality Steve Gibson is subsidising the ticket price in the absence of the PL money to cover the running costs of the club.

    I sometimes wonder if it would be better for the club to publish the list price for tickets that actually covers the cost of running a top six Championship club and then selling them at their current discount price – I think it would be an eye-opener for many fans who expect the club to buy and pay the wages of top players at this level to see the difference between what they pay and what they need to pay.

    Of course the tickets are cheaper in Germany but the attendances are probably at least double so the economics are better – plus the commercial sponsorship deals are higher as games are broadcast on non-pay TV.

    The question now is whether FFP will allow costs to come down or just prevent most clubs of being capable of becoming a top-six Championship club – as suspect under the current fudged system the latter is more likely.

  6. “Following consultation with our clubs and the Professional Game Match Officials Limited [the refereeing body], we have decided to introduce it in the Premier League and look forward to having it in place for the 2014-15 season.”

    This relates to the vanishing spray in use at the world cup. Some may think it relates to encroachment at free kicks etc. They may think that but I couldnt possibly comment.

    Others may think it relates to the closed shop that is the top flight.

    On to the timing of AV responses and posters replies to other posters. For what it is worth I think we probably have the best situation unless it is possible to repost with Vics response.

    One of the great strengths of theis blog is the fact we can run multiple themes at the same time, we can have multiple discussions running in parallel and you dont miss anything.

  7. What is that blog on the Evening gazette web-site? I have had to come to Av to find out the final score. I know we have no bad language on here here but I opened the site and after sixty two (62) jumps and twitches all over the time scale I gave up. EG, that is rubbish. It sticks jumps, twitches, goes back, jumps forward, stops, it is embarrassing. Get the techies on it, please, it’s not a blog it’s a right mess. Is it all the twitter stuff that does it? As an example of communication we’d be better off with semaphore or heliograph. Or even a man in a loincloth with a note stuck in forked stick.

    OK, rant over, pleased we won, don’t know who scored or when but you can’t have everything. Or can you. Don’t answer that.

    **AV writes: Reach and Fewster scored against Sooper Cooper’s Simian Stranglers.

    1. Thanks AV, the wife has talked me down off the window ledge using phrases like, …and the season hasn’t even started yet. It’s only a friendly.

      Sooper Cooper’s Simian Stranglers, excellent.

  8. Another day and another signing, brilliant. I am convinced that a lot of careful research has gone into the recruitment of Nsue just as it seems to have done with all of the signings. Now we wait to who is next. presumably no fee was involved here?

    Any inside info to torment and tantalise us with AV?

    **AV writes: I think I have probably already said too much.

  9. One must assume the obvious, that Curtis out freed the headroom for Nsue to come in, hence the importance of that move. So it’s an ‘extra’ rather than the RB/Midfielder/Striker moves. The excitement is building…..refresh refresh refresh

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