August 2007 Archives
DEADLINE DAY.... and time to clear through the early morning debris of disinformation, rumour and speculation. The papers are all full of it. "Everyman and hsi dog" know Boro need a specialist right sided midfielder, a striker that offers something different and who is not going to the African Nations Cup in January and cover for Andrew Taylor at left back.
Looks like it could be a long day sat watching and waiting for a mention on the Sky Sports yellow banner at five to midnight (or five past one as it was last year). I'll update this as the day proceeds and try to stand up the stories and rubbish the rumours - starting with the latest on Ameobi, O'Neil and Pistone...
Read on for all the news as it breaks....
SOME THINGS transcend the petty parochial squabbling of football rivalries. Whatever team you support and however passionately you express it, most people are still bound by the norms of society and the same moral spectrum that guides everyday life.
Only the foaming zealots fail to see that fans on the other side of the segregation lines are basically the same as them. Only the real hardcore idiots really believe the opposition are dehumanised scum and that anything goes. Only the ignorant dregs of humanity believe that being at a football match means you can set aside civilised standards of behaviour and have free licence to indulge in the basest of offensive behaviour.
You know, the kind who sing that someone is Ã¢ÂÂa paedoÃ¢Â? and think it is incredibly witty.
BORO have confirmed they have agreed a fee with Everton for Yakubu and the Nigerian hitman has been given permission to talk to the Goodison outfit. He is en route to Merseyside to discuss personal terms as we speak and the deal is expected to be pushed through quickly.
The fee is believed to be ÃÂ£11.25m.... which is a fantastic bit of business by my reckoning.
Of course, we've all been resigned to it for a while now and the only question then was how much he would realise. Now the only question is: who will we spend the dosh on?
YAKUBU is happy at Boro, definitely not for sale - Ã¢ÂÂhe is very much part of my plans,Ã¢Â? has been the Southgate Summer mantra - has not put in a transfer request and has not been the subject of a single transfer bid.
So why then is the national football media making merry with constant speculation that he is on his way? Why has Ã¢ÂÂexpertÃ¢ÂÂ pundit Alan Hansen analysed Yakubu's potential as an aerial threat alongside Andy Johnson? And why have the Everton club shop staff ordered an extra consignment of iron-on Ã¢ÂÂUÃ¢ÂÂs?
MIDO is set to be thrown straight into battle as Boro go to Fulham tomorrow desperate to kick-start the season. The ÃÂ£6.8m Egyptian targetman - physical but with a deft touch and good in the air - may not start but he looks certain to be blooded in a crucial clash at Craven Cottage .
With a makeshift defence, the main creative force on the left carrying a knock and the Yakubu not in the squad - draw your own conclusions on that one - the stage is set for a hero and the former Spurs striker is the only proven Premiership predator at Gareth Southgate's disposal.
I want Mido to dominate and sparkle and score a last gasp winner - if only so we can use a banner back page headline screaming: "He Sphinx It's All Over!"
WHEN the Sky fixtures came out and we saw Wigan against Boro had been selected I inserted tongue firmly in cheek and quipped that the only reason they could have seen it as worthy of airtime was that they thought it was the season's first relegation six pointer. How we laughed.
It's not so bloody funny now. Yes, Boro have injuries but the creditable opening day display against a polished Blackburn side in a game that they arguably should have won showed that even with a makeshift defence Southgate's side could play with panache, pace and passion. Against Wigan - a side so poor that they think adding Titus Bramble has strengthened them - a shadow of that team showed very few redeeming features.
By ADAM STEEL
MIDDLESBROUGH suffered their second defeat in as many games when they went down 0-1 against Wigan.
BORO may have lost the opener but thereÃ¢ÂÂs no need to write the season off just yet.
Going into the game amid a deep defensive crisis and an unprecedented air of doom and gloom over ticket sales, Keith Lamb's comments, transfer activity seen by many as well short of 'spectacular' and abrupt radio silencefrom Ali and Bernie their were low expectations. Many expected a Boro side with a makeshift backline to be battered by bogey team Blackburn.
In fact Boro sparkled for an hour, deservedly took the lead and showed promising signs that the new attacking mentality was taking root before two defensive slips in concentration cost them the points in 15 minutes of madness.
YOU CAN tell how strong a squad is by looking at its bench. For the muted friendly against AZ Alkmaar - the last before the big kick-off and traditionally a game where bosses turn out the team they expect to start the season - Boro's bench looked woefully short of the Premiership: Brad Jones, Jason Euell, Dong Gook Lee, Seb Hines, Jonathan Grounds, Josh Walker and Tom Craddock.
Some of those youngsters have plenty of potential and may well yet follow the well worn path from academy to first team pioneered by Stewy Downing and Lee Cattermole (or veer off on the Jock Morrison branchline and pay back some of the investment in the youth system) but you would not like to stake Premiership survival on them. The older ones have been tried and tested in the big league and you wouldn't gamble on them as match-winners from the bench either.
And yes, there were a few senior players out with niggles or suspensions but that will happen when the campaign kicks off for real too. There will come times in the season when Boro will need to call on the full depths of the squad and as it stands it is Posh Spice visibly boney.
OKAY, now I'm worried. Pogatetz crocked and out until Christmas (full story exclusive in today's Evening Gazette). Woodgate missing for the first three weeks. Huth's return shrouded in mystery... Boro will be frighteningly short at the back for the start of the season and if we don't get off to a flyer it will be another long hard grind.
More on Poggi as the story develops....