FRUSTRATING though it is fretting through the surface silence of fooball’s tumbleweed weeks, it would be a mistake to thing nothing is happening at Boro.
Fans grow anxious in the absence of public activity and persuade themselves that every other club is having a summer splurge snapping up a quality squad while sluggish Boro laze about on sun-loungers.
I’ve heard some people propose work starts on engraving Derby’s name onto the trophy now. Of course, those premature pundits said exactly the same in January. “Nailed on”.
But don’t panic at the silence. rest assured, the Hurworth hierarchy are hard at work.
Up to now the only signs of activity have been the occasional sniper snippets shooting down ludicrous rumours. Good. Have you seen some of the names that have been “linked” so far as the desperate yearn for something, anything to happen? Low level no-marks who are good on Football Manager? Jeez.
But we are starting reach the business end of the summer and Steve Gibson’s Rockliffe nerve centre is buzzing. The chairman is working on a string of simultaneous potential deals, haggling, sweet-talking, number-crunching and weighing up the risks and possible benefits of a move in a harsh post FFP economic landscape where Boro must get maximum bang for their buck on the pitch. The club are taking their time because they want to get their signings right, not early.
Yeeees! A ripple in the rumoursphere alerts Stewy to a possible Riverside return
There was an brief, exciting explosion in the Teesside rumoursphere this week as prodigal playmaker Stewart Downing was linked with what would be a sensational Riverside return. While making the numbers stack up on that mooted move may be problematic – Downing has two years left on a £70k a week contract and a £5m pricetag – there is clearly a real interest in the reunion on both sides.
It may not come off – the eye-watering figures make the maths very difficult – but it is an insight into the club’s thinking.
Boro aim to recruit genuine game-changing quality to markedly improve the first team. No makeweights adding to the squad: Boro want match-winners; They want goals; They want creativity.
The big-wigs have had a detailed post-mortem and they know exactly where the team fell short last term – we all do – and now they want to address the areas of weakness and launch a beefed-up and sustained promotion push: they are going for it.
Aitor Karanka, a year wiser in the ways of the Championship, knows exactly what – and who – he wants and ever driven Gibson is determined to deliver.
Boro aim to completely reshape the front end this summer. They want to bring in power, pace and nous and put together a strike force with the skill-set to unpick locked well drilled defences or punch past parked buses.
But they still have to do it within a budget restrained by a limited income – although gates did nudge up last term they still won’t fund big money signings – and a strict league ceiling on spending and the threat of sanctions if they go over. And that won’t be easy.
Some juggling may be needed. Some cutely structured deals to spread the burden over the next few years or linking fees and wages to performance bonuses. Maybe cashing in an asset or two in one area to strengthen another if the right deal comes along. It will take a lot of shrewd behind the scenes spadework and well targeted market muscle.
But Boro believe they can succeed off the pitch – and if they do it will markedly increase their chances on it.
To celebrate reaching my 1000 post Five Year Plan for populist rabble-rousing on the blog I’ve been awarded a smart new company car. What do you think?