Deadline Day: Live. Again

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.

1jordan

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.

1MrTEqually 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.

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UPDATE 10am

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.

1piggyMeanwhile 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’.)

NOON UPDATE

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…

1tweets

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UPDATE 2pm

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.

UPDATE 3pm

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.

1boyband

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.

UPDATE 4.30pm

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.

In brief:

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.

UPDATE 5.30pm

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.

UPDATE 7.30pm

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.

2JR

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?

UPDATE 8.45pm

1fireworks.JPG

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…

1shirt.jpg
Its Its

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 …

1opta.JPG

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).

UPDATE 10pm

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.

1FFFapture

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.

UPDATE 11pm

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.

 

 

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268 thoughts on “Deadline Day: Live. Again

  1. I was thinking of Husband coming back to play in later games, as I thought he wouldn’t be available for Saturday, AV. He’s been with us for a long time without ever really having a chance to show what he can do. But from the sound of AK’s news conference, De Laet is expected to play a useful part from now on.

    It’s a shame it didn’t work out for Kike, but the crowd did support him very well and I’m sure his farewell message was sincerely felt. Replacing Kike with Rhodes should represent considerable strenthening, although it remains to be seen how strong Rhodes’ all-round game is. It’s good to hear him say that he has come here to fit in and improve.

    1. What’s the alternative? ‘I know Boro have paid a lot of money for me but I’m really tired after all that transfer business and to be honest I need a couple of weeks off in Honolulu, with a couple of those scantily clad grass skirted friendly smiling girly types to refresh me motivation.’

      Hmmmm!

  2. Nugent on the left could work because he is left footed.

    Having Nugent left, Stuani right with someone at no 10 and Rhodes up top would in effect be 433.

    Do I think that will happen? No.

    More likely Rhodes up top with the usual suspects Adomah, Downing and Stuani. With de Laet at left back that will make us incredibly narrow.

    1. Ian

      AK did say he knew what the problem was after the Forest and Bristol defeats. Being too narrow is a part of it I think. I doubt we will see a full 433 but the 4231 permits a bit of flexibility and offensively I would like to think we will see something akin to three attackers. I can but dream!

      Simply replacing Fabbrini and Kike in the squad with Ramirez and Rhodes but then playing exactly the same way won’t address the “problem” whatever the problem was that AK was referring to.

    2. Barcelona have a similar problem with the left-footed Messi on the right and the right-footed Neymar on the left. Poor Suarez has teammates dragging defenders into his space all game, every game. Last night he could only score four!

      “Just sayin’ like”

      1. That is a problem we have. We don’t have Neymar, Suarez or Messi. Our players struggle to trap a ball, pass to someone in the same colour shirt never mind run forward.

        It isn’t their fault they are what they are, they get paid commensurate with their ability and play in the Championship not Champions League.

      2. I suppose. But then so are the teams we are playing against.

        We ARE managing to play the same system as the vast majority of Europe’s elite sides so I’m not sure the argument stacks up that we ahouldn’t play wingers on the “wrong” side because we are a Championship team.

  3. Its small tweaks here and there but gradual improvement. I respected and liked Kike but Rhodes on paper is an improvement at £11m. Fabbrini was fun but inconsistent and at times erratic, Ramirez originally cost £12m so can’t be suddenly poor (OK Alves aside) and hopefully again on paper could be a tasty proposition if he revives his career here and plays to his previous potential. My reason for optimism here is that AK does have the knack of making decent players even better (Friend, Ayala, or even Dimi and Ben for that matter).

    In theory we have a front four (Nugent, Rhodes, Ramirez, Stuani) whose potential value is in excess of £30m which for the Championship is probably unheard of. Throw in or swap around Stewy and Albert and we are still upwards of £20m on the pitch at any given time. But and its a big But, creativity, we have been lacking it, surely now we have it and with some to spare. Lets hope we see a barnstorming 2nd half to the Season.

  4. Hoping Rhodes’ predatory instincts will drag our team fifteen yards further forward. Plus he will act as a target man, not just in the sense of wanting to score bit providing a target for our supporting three to find inside the area. Instead of our usual formation of the front four passing to each other outside the area.

    With George out I would hope Downing plays left to offer the temporary LB some same footed cover.

  5. TalkSport had a “Football Manager Expert” on their show this afternoon who had completed their annual post-January Transfer Window simulations. I think he said they had been highly accurate for the past three seasons.

    According to him, Rhodes will score ten goals for Boro this season and we will finish second, behind Hull.

    Burnley, Derby, Brighton and Cardiff finished in the playoffs in that order.

    There you have it then.

  6. After my two grumps we have to remember we have we have 55 points from 27 games, we are clear in second with two games in hand, same results see us with 94 points, minor improvement will see another 2-3 points?

    I will take 96-97 points in May. Hands up all those who disagree. I am not Borophil but I can see his point sometimes, still disagree a lot of the time.

  7. “I fancy Steve Gibson will expect a bit more for his money than a slight incremental improvement.”

    Couldn’t disagree more. I think he’d want more of the same. If we are replicate our form for the first 27 games in the next 19 then we’ll be promoted, probably as champions.

    The signings we’ve made make it even more likely. Kike tried hard (but so did Jutkiewicz and Chris Killeen – isn’t that the least we expect?) but Rhodes is a step up. We obviously create more than one chance per game on a regular basis (if you read some of the posts here you’d think we never get out of our own half) and if Rhodes misses 2 out of 3, I’ll be very disappointed considering how much we have spent. But then I guess it’s also how you define a chance.

    Good luck to Kike in Spain – but if he was as good at taking chances as he was at writing letters, he’d still be here and we wouldn’t have signed Rhodes.

    We’ve played the majority of our hard fixtures, we’ve dominated the division so far, teams are absolutely petrified to come to the Riverside, we’ve strengthened even further to the envy of our rivals and probably teams in the division above us.

    If we don’t go up now, I will be absolutely astonished.

    **AV writes: The idea that “we don’t create chances” doesn’t tally with my experience. Almost every week I seem to write “had Boro taken a string of good chances they would have had the game wrapped up long before…..”

    1. AV

      You have seen and written about every game this season, so I bow to that experience. But in the games that I have seen, especially away from home, we have frequently gone for long periods without troubling the opposition keeper. In the last two away games, I don’t think either the Brentford or Bristol keeper had a serious save to make.

      **AV writes: At Brentford the best chance was when Button saved a close range effort from Stuani and then Nugent got to the rebound but didn’t really connect. There was also a one-on-one when Nugent pounced on a poor back pass but stabbed it straight at the keeper. And Grant hit the bar. At Bristol there were a couple of headers that flew wide and a great ball into the box from Ayala that Kike failed to connect with. So there have been chances.

  8. Above, RR gave us some numbers we have spent on new players and especially up front.

    I heard last night that there are only nine teams in Europe that spent more money in January than Boro. Eight were from the PL and one from Italy. So we spent more than Barcelona, for exaple.

    Small town in Europe? Champion elect at least in May, I hope.

    Up the Boro!

  9. Well, Forest weren’t – but they were the exception to the rule this season (and credit to them for that). They also caught us on an off day – but they were on a 11-match unbeaten run so it was always going to be difficult, especially with Downing off colour, and our back four disrupted.

    We haven’t created a load of chances in the last 3 games, but we’ve still created enough to win. Rhodes hopefully is the answer to the problem. We also missed Ben Gibson badly – we simply don’t lose when he is in the team.

    1. I agree with you, I said before that Ben Gibson and Ayala together are the solidity the team needs. Is it a co-incidence that when ben is out we’ve shown a few cracks?

      UTB,

      John

      1. Nigel;

        Happy to do a bit of tinkering with the existing path.

        That will be 11k. As you’re a mate.

        Though the final bill might be closer to 30.

        “No Job Too Small, No Fee Too Large”

    1. You need to practice a “sharp intake of breath” and a “sanguine shake of the head” Len. Followed by” Its going to cost you mate”

  10. “I needed a midfielder and a defender, and then when Diego (Fabbrini) left, we needed a number ten. For that reason, Jordan wasn’t on the list.”

    “At the start of January 31, I had my squad completely perfect, and then the chairman arrived on the last day with Jordan Rhodes. For that reason, what can I say about him once again? We had everything, but then Steve arrived with a big surprise.”

    Oh no, we’ve been here before, is Jordan Rhodes the Championship version of Afonso Alves.
    .

  11. It doesn’t matter who you bring in if you don’t play with tempo and pace. Teams will suck the life out of you if you start slow and let them settle in to their banks of four at the back and five in midfield.

    You can add width to that as well, if you allow them to play within the 18 yard box then space becomes a premium.

    Give them time to channel back and become compact and you with need Messi, Suarez and Neymar.

    That is nothing to do with tracking back, no one in any team can just let someone run away from them. Top players like Messi, Aguero, Suarez have a bite to their game (some have several). They work their socks off and close down.

  12. It isn’t easy to play with tempo and pace though, not for the entire 90 minutes anyway. I’m sure the team go out with that intention, but to keep it going and maintain it takes some effort.

    And if the opposition sits in deep and refuses to come out and play, there is nothing to chase. It doesn’t matter how fast your tempo is, if there is no room to do anything – better teams than us have found that out.

    Of course that’s in part where AK comes in and whatever he says to them beforehand. Tomorrow should require little motivation, the new signings themselves should be a boost. They’ve had 2 weeks to get over the blip, I expect them to come out firing tomorrow. A big crowd will help as well.

  13. Len, we can take the two Bristol City matches as examples.

    The first at Riverside, I think we had chances to win a few matches. So I think we can create chances but ne need to take these chances. Hence Rhodes.

    The Bristol away match was not so good. The Bristol goal waited to happen and it did. We played badly as a team.

    So as Ian keeps on saying, it not the system but how we play in the system. If we have a lousy day, we will loose. All AK can do is choosing the players and train them at Rockcliffe. On the match day it is up to the players.

    Of course he can ask SG to buy better players. Which he has done.

    Looking forward to tomorrow. We just need to get back to our regular norm. No gimmicks but back to the basics. That should be Ok, even Rovers seem to beone of the bogey teams, again.

    Up the Boro!

  14. Borophil

    Of course it isn’t easy but if you start off slowly it is difficult to pick up the tempo, you let the opposition get settled. That was one of my criticisms of Mogga, he STATED that was his approach, sit back for half an hour and see what the opposition is doing. One of the other criticisms was that the team had no structure and was always sent out to mirror the opposition.

    Anyway, time will tell. I will settle for an incremental improvement and finish on 96/97 points.

    Crowd tomorrow? 25,200 Boro fans, 800 from Blackburn who will be wearing half Boro half Blackburn scarves in honour of JR. Maybe not. I reserve the right to amend the crowd should AV suddenly post current sales

    **AV writes: It was 24,000 at start of play today.

  15. A continuation of overall form to date will, probably, see us finish in the top 2 but I’m of the the same persuasion as RR and Ian as I’d like to see us speed things up a tad and play on the front foot. Surely, we haven’t purchased a Rolls Royce to have it siting in a traffic jam?

  16. AV, now we need a new blog. We have a real striker to make his debut tomorrow. I cannot remember Hassebaink’s record when he joined, but have we ever had a striker of Roades’ calibre since Cloughie?

    More than 1 in 2 matches. Sounds great. Up the Boro!

  17. Interesting end of week football discussion in the office. In summary the Championship is a funny league.

    But, mutterings about Ince being a show pony! No wonder he doesn’t last long anywhere. Cant see why Clement is picking him.

    Not my words, merely repeating what I have been told.

  18. The main problem as I see it is that we defend as a team (all eleven) but we attack only with about 5. We need to get more players forward quickly. This means of course sacrificing defence at times, but it’s the only way to create chances.

  19. I think it’s fair to say if we score one goal then we have a good chance of winning games – if we score two then I’d always expect to win the game.

    It’s a symbiotic pressure relieving relationship between defence and attack – the better the defence the less pressure up front – the better the attack the less pressure at the back.

    Hopefully Rhodes will offer that clinical spearhead that will give us that early goal that sometimes failed to materialise despite the decent chances created.

    If we can capitalise on our normal early thrust at the opposition before they settle then it could well be a cruise to the finishing line – though no slacking or complacency please!

    1. Hi Werdermouth

      It’s reached the point where I believe that if we take the lead first – even at all – I genuinely believe we will win the game. I mean, how often has AK lost from a winning position? Off the top of my head, just twice (QPR and the bottle top, and, most recently, Burnley in the cup), though there’s probably one more in there somewhere.

      I think it’s down to our defence and engine room being as settled as they are. Dimi, Nsue, Ayala, Gibson, Friend, Leads and Clayton are almost certain starters when fit. The front four, however, seem to have been chopped and changed so many times throughout AK’s reign that it’s no wonder most of the worry has been centred around our attack.

      But, following our most recent signings, I’m reminded of something that was said about Aime Jacquet’s France just before the World Cup in 1998: that he may have struggled to find the right attacking blend, but France had rarely been beaten under his stewardship and he had talent at his disposal that was as good as any rival.

      And we all know who won the competition that year. They also scored more, won more and conceded less than any other WC finalist.

      The analogy’s probably a bit far out but considering how Jacquet’s team were praised for their defence, I don’t think it’s too far off the mark.

  20. Just listened to Rhodes’ interview on Boro+.

    Is it just me but he talks and sounds a bit like George Friend. Are they from same area? But they both seems so relaxed but still ambitious. So many similarities as sportsmen.

    Nice addition. Up the Boro!

    1. Hi Jarrko

      Rhodes is from the mid to north of England and George is from the South West of England.

      They are both intelligent guys and Rhodes seems very mature. He’s 26 today so lots of years ahead of him

      Let’s hope he hits the ground running and fires us to promotion .

      Talking about accents the lad we signed from Leicester De late signing! He sounds English !!!!!

      FatBob

      **AV writes: I think De Laet has been in England over 10 years now.

  21. A word of caution from Derby. They changed their team structure bringing in Bent and Ince, they also lost Martin through injury. The balance was upset and they imploded – not helped it may be said be McClaren telling the players he was going after he got players to sign new contracts.

    As Peter Beagrie said they are a group of players whereas Burnley, Hull and Boro are a collective.

    As I have mentioned before the best teams work their socks off. Everybody said ManU worked on the basis you score three and we will score four, a bit of a folktale – does anyone seriously think Pallister, Keane, Schmeichel, Necille and Bruce were happy with that scenario.

    Think how many times ManU went down to ten men but came back and won. That was down to hard work, same goes for Fergie time.

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