WELCOME to the ever popular, interactive breakfast-to-bongs Untypical Boro D-Day Speculatathon in which we all abandon the staid and balanced Gazette house-style and go full-on yellow tied Jim White Scoopbot S3000 bat shit crazy for 18 adrenaline splashed and caffeine fuelled hours of full, frivolity and – occasionally – FACT!
Think of it as a cross between camp, full-on Eurovision spectacular with smoke and mirrors and gobsmacked moments of jaw-dropping Peter Odemwingie incredulity and Newsnight nuanced battling boffin forensic electoral analysis of every snippet of information that ripples through the rumoursphere. It’ll be a blast.
If you’re new this is the kind of thing you can expect. Here’s last January’s low key, make-your-own-entertainment effort. And here’s September’s all-action, dramatic Flight Of The Condor Transatlantic chase to get car crash victim Carlos de Pena over the line.
So where to start?
Obviously by sifting through the aftermath of the sensational collapse of the £9m plus mooted move for Jordan Rhodes, a transfer trailed for almost a year which started from a position where all parties were eager to do the deal… and maybe some still are. Fans went from jubilant gloating in the queue outside the tattooists when the Gazette broke the story on Friday night to desolate wailing about a ‘typical Boro’ bullet through size nines yesterday as we broke the news Gibbo had pulled the plug.
The question now is will the pressure from Blackburn, who had already mentally spent the money, and the determination of Boro not to cave into his demands prompt a rethink?
Then there is the strange case of Ross McCormack, a situation that has sparked a lot of media noise for a month but no activity at all, with Boro big wigs repeatedly telling me they had never made a bid, let alone an improved one that included players and Fulham equally adamant that he wasn’t for sale anyway. Naturally when Boro pulled the plug on Rhodes the frenzied speculation switched immediately straight back to our badge kissing buddy… although the suggestions from London last night were that he was about to sign a new improved deal. So at least one agent has played a blinder over the past week.
Equally strange is the pursuit of Swedish stopper Victor Lindelof, who is proving harder to get on the plane than Mr T. We were told is was a done deal a fortnight ago, that a red tape wrangle between the player and his agent had been resolved and that he was good to go. Aitor said they were still “working” on it. And since then he has played more first team games for Benfica than in the previous two seasons while clubs as diverse as Real Valladolid, Feyenoord and Augsburg are lurking. Benfica brinkmanship? We’ll see.
Now Boro have to decide to stick or twist. To spend now to fill the feelgood void left by the Rhodes block or back the beefed up squad who have got us this far?
What we do know is that at the start of the window Boro were sending out signals that they were happy with the squad that had got them into the promotion spots with a superlative spattered red hot run and that they would only splash out if they could get the right man at the right price, that they wouldn’t get into a bidding war, and that the key factor was maintaining the right blend and spirit in the dressing room.
Boro indicated they wanted to add a bit of creativity and a few extra options up front and have brought in Uruguay playmaker Gaston Ramirez on loan plus added ‘English style bustling centre-forward’ Kike Sola up front who could yet turn out to be the Spanish Uwe Fuchs. So some boxes ticked there.
But we also know that Aitor wanted a utility man who offered central defensive cover and who could also play in a holding role in midfield, a body to replace the depart loanees Jack Stephens and Bruno Zuculini. Expect something there if not Lindelof.
So let’s go – there will be regular updates during the day, news of moves here and elsewhere that affect us, of Boro old boys and former targets, plus all the best jokes, memes, gossip and all your top quality input. Feel free to comment on the blog, tweet me comments, questions and sightings of Peter Crouch in Yarm High Street at @untypicalboro or drop in on the lads on the @gazetteboro liveblog. That’ll be great too.
Well that’s the first cup of official Sex Pistol branded tea slurped and the daily hate mail sorted… on to business. What have we got so far?
Left-sided good engines Alex Pritchard has joined West Brom on loan after a weekend tug-of-war between big spending Boro and bargain bucket Burnley.
His people spent some time on the phone to the Hurworth hierarchy over the weekend and having drifted away on Saturday I understand it got quite close again at one point yesterday before the agent got a call on the special gold-plated Premier League mobile.
Some of the inter-club wrangling was about money obviously (its nearly always about money) but some of it was supposedly about pitch time too you wonder how much of that he will get with the Baggies.
In strategic terms this is a good thing though: Pritchard is a good player and we didn’t want him joining Burnley.
Meanwhile the cut-price Clarets have smashed the kiddies’ piggybank, raided the Bright House money and rummaged down the back of the settee to scrape together the meagre mooted £5m for defender James Tarkowski as their bid to buy up Brentford bit-by-bit steps up a gear.
Elsewhere former Boro loanee Bruno “did a good job but wouldn’t recognise him if he sat next to me on the bus” Zuculini has touched down in Athens ahead of a move to AEK.
But will anyone be touching down at Teesside today? We’ll see. Is anyone on airport duty?
(That is what is called in the trade ‘a tease’.)
Sorry I disappeared but I’ve been a bit busy. Mainly writing up the Rhodes U-Turn story. It seems the deal is back on – and on Boro’s original terms. After sleeping on the debris of the weekend’s shattered dream deal and no doubt taking some stick from Blackburn who feared all their own deadline day deals were being scuppered, he has reconsidered.
After turning up at Rovers training ground and feeling the death glare of ‘dour Scot’ specialist Paul Lambert he swiftly turned straight round and headed off again. We under stand that he is on his way to Teesside, although naturally there are whispers of alternative co-ordinates being punched into his SatNav with both Watford and Sunderland being mischievously mentioned from the usual quarters.
I’ve also been busy scribbling out my back-of-a- beermat calculations of how the costs in a transfer mooted at the £10m mark can quickly escalated and soar northwards through the £25m mark and beyond. By the time you add VAT, Football League levy and signing on fee, wages, bonuses and agents fees you quickly get into the kind of stratospheric heights where you need oxygen and can wave to Tim Peake as he goes past.
Meanwhile another former loanee has touched down in Europe to complete a move to a big club with Milos Veljkovic set to sign for Werder Bremen.
How strange. For some reason a peppering of bold text has appeared? Gremlins!
Ah! Gone. The magic of pressing random buttons. Never fails.
Tweet of the day so far…
Sorry to have left to your own devices. It probably looks like we are doing nothing, swanning around Gazette Towers, feet up on the plush furniture and doing those little talking heads videos you love so much. In fact it is that swan scenario with feet going cartoon crazy under the surface, busy writing backgrounders on all Boro’s new players and plotting the progress of Jordan Rhodes towards Rockliffe.
Meanwhile, here’s a thing I did on the true costs of a big money transfer. Its all hypothetical, obviously I’m not privy to the details of any deal, but it is probably a decent guesstimate and guide to some of the things most people don’t consider.
And there is plenty potentially happening. We understand Belgiam Under-21 defensive midfielder Julien de Sart is set to join on loan from Standard Liege. He has been on the Boro radar for a while. In his last game he was up against Jelle Vossen. Small world.
Meanwhile, on the A59 at Blubberhouses….
UPDATE – apparently you can’t get through via Blubberhouses after a landslip next week. Suggested alternative route is via Ilkley and Otley.
Kike is said to be packed and poised to move to Wolves when the Rhodes deal goes through (although another English club and one in Spain, Eibar we think, are also keen but are struggling with the finances.)
Wolves boss Kenny Jackett is looking at his watch:
“We’re waiting for information. He’s not the only one we’re waiting on. There are some long-standing targets. He is a player we have followed and inquired about. But there’s a number of players we’ve inquired about – we’re looking at home and abroad.
“We’re waiting for information. He is a player we have made an inquiry about. A striker is the only position that’s likely to develop today, yes, and our inquiries have been about that position.”
I think he will be waiting a while. Our understanding is that Kike is staying.
It’s always sad when a much loved boy band break up. Here’s a picture from just a year ago. Last season’s Riverside teeny bopper faves No Direction, a real hit with the East Stand honeyz, have been scattered to the four winds. Yanic has joined Wigan, Ryan has joined the Cottagers, the pin-up of the group Paddy B is now singing with the Canaries and moody Milos is now recording solo material in Europe with top disco label Werder.
Sorry I’ve had time to do your usual singing and dancing but I’ve been signing players, doing the AA roadwatch and talking down the terminally nervous.
Kike is not leaving. We have been told there was interest – strong interest from Wolves – but that Aitor wants to keep him. For now. Which is fair enough. That’s a strong front line unit once Rhodes is done…
Which bring us to our U-turning targetman. We are told his arrival is imminent so if you have been hiding in the bushes at Hurworth it won’t be long now. Our Spy Cam has him back on the move on the A1 after a short stop off which has left us arguing in the office over what is a regular question for us…. Wetherby Whaler or the Frying Pan (the FRying Pan every time by the way, although it closes at about 9pm).
Belgian imminent. We understand Julien de Sart has touched down and is expected at Rockliffe soon to take a medical and complete the formalities.
And those two will be stood at reception waiting to check in to their swanky suites with Richie De Laet. The Leicester City much travelled mainly right but also left back is also Rockliffe bound after agreeing a loan until the end of the season.
So that will be three in today. First choice striker. Experienced Championship promotion winning either side full-back. Holding midfielder as cover for the dynamic duo. Decent bit of shopping. I’m told all three are Rockliffe bound with just fine-tuning and medicals needed before they can be sealed. I hope it is done swiftly. I want to go home.
Right, I’m taking a brief break and switching operations to the Acklam office. If that doesn’t hurry things along, nothing will. It’s the old get in the bath/phone ringing certainty equation.
Right, where were we before I rudely dipped out to get some scran and do some domestic stuff? I know everyone has been fretting and squealing and refreshing twitter all afternoon and torturing themselves with dark fears of failure and hijacks past but it is starting to come together now. Rhodes has finally arrived looking tired and drawn and exactly as you would expect someone who has slogged over the M62 in rush-hour would. Especially if the traffic and time ticking meant you COULDN’T go to the Whaler. Sick as a chip. And in sharp contrast to the taunting smiley dangling from the mirror.
But he’s here, that’s the important thing. Plus the the medical was done on Saturday and the deal on the table was all agreed on Friday before the games of contract footsie started and were swiftly brought to a half by Gibbo pulling the plug. And it was reiterated this morning in the Great U-turn. So that should progress fairly swiftly now.
Ditto De Laet, which is a straight-forward enough loan deal until the end of the season. And fellow Belgian Julien de Sart – who is apparently a real deal now and not a loan, my bad – jetted in and had his medical earlier and with every agreed verabally befor ehe arrived that sounds like it should progress fairly quickly too.
Judging by the grainy camera pics doing the rounds the players have been mass papped as they arrive by a hardcore of eager fans willing to brave the cold and the rain. But the standard of the Boro turn-out has fallen well short of the now defunct car park doyle fests that used to liven up Sky Sports News live broadcasts. Until “Dildogate.” That was the final straw. There’s always one that ruins it for the rest isn’t there?
The Steve McClaren memorial gold plated biro has been taken out… and flourished.
Jordan Rhodes has signed. Finally. After a year long flirtation, a summer stand-off and then a dramatic bit of brinkmanship at the end there, Aitor Karanka has got his man. Big spending Boro are all over the bright yellow rolling ticker tape of destiny.
And here’s the traditional anorak and replica shirt snap…
Obviously it is a lot of money – £9m guaranteed with bonuses that we all hope we pay – taking it up to a possible £13m over a four-and-a-half year deal – but for all his faults (and Blackburn Rovers fans will tell you he has plenty), THIS is what he does …
I think the others are not far behind in the queue to sign too. “Better De Laet Than Never” (mandatory back page puns No 137).
Flagging a bit now. Its been a long weekend hard-wired into a draining emotional roller-coaster and I’ve going pretty much flat out since Friday night. Not long now. Just a bit of fine-tuning to do before the bongs.
I’m hearing that Amorebieta may be leaving now De Laet is safely signed. The Leicester man can cover more positions – RB, LB and CB – and adds versatility but also the exit frees up a precious matchday loan slot. We are limited to five. So a bit of reshuffle make sense. Nando has done a solid enough job (twice – and he scored in the paly-off semi-final at Brentford ) but he has been exposed a bit at left-back in the last few games and has a tendency to pump it long and that changes the shape a bit so perhaps its no surprise that he has been seen as expendable.
Oooh. That’s confirmed now.
And hot on the heels of that Julien de Sart – who sounds like medieval knight and crusader – has wielded the gold plated biro too and signed a three-and-a-half-year deal to switch from Standard Liege. Adds cover in the defensive midfield slot.
Window closed – and its been a good one. And not just today. Don’t forget the big lad Kike Sola and Uruguay World Cup playmaker Gaston Ramirez. Throw in Rhodes and that is a few new options at the front end that has looked clunky at times. Then we have de Sart, rate as one the hottest young talents in Belgium, added to midfield and experienced double sided full-back De Laet brought in to beef up the rear-guard. That’s not bad work.
Jack Stephens and Bruno Zuculini moved on early in the window and Diego Fabbrini went last week followed by Nando Amorebieta today. Overall you have to think teh ones who have come in are stronger (although de Sart and Sola are unknown quantities.)
And credit to Steve Gibson. He has given the manager the tools to do the job. He has faced down agent inflation in a brave act of poker faced brinkmanship and forced a player to back down – that doesn’t happen often – got Karanka’s first choice striking target after a year long courting at what is not exactly a bargain price but the one he was determined not to exceed. And one that could reap incredible dividends if he delivers on his potential.
Right. Beer. Bed. Start the build up to the Blackburn game tomorrow… Rhodes debut.