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Boro Set For Window Pain

By Anthony Vickers on Jan 30, 13 03:08 PM


WITH a six pack chilling and the laptop fired up I'll be glued to Sky Sports News for the live transfer window spectacular on Thursday.

I'll swig the beer to dull the window pain - but I don't think I'll be needing the laptop.

Feel free to join me here in the usual nose-pressed-up-against-the-window non-stop sarcastic singalong and annual Schadenfreude session.

It will be a quiet one. There was a time when goggle-eyed Boro fans could barely afford to tear their eyes away from the screen as a cash-crazed club ran amok through Europe scattering signing on fees in their wake.

Excited David Craig would be recounting the unfolding events outside in the Rockliffe car-park with the camera focussed long lens on a lighted office where you could just make out the blurry silhouette of Keith Lamb hard at work over a red hot fax as Big Ben's gongs loomed.

Remember the airport sightings, furtive Tontine lunches with household names and frenzied texting and cyberspace ripples at reports that a Mercedes with the number-plate M3551 was driving lost around Hurworth?

Remember the moments of madness as the clock ticked down and the Afonso Alves price-tag went up past ridiculous and heading toward the rarified upper atmosphere of madness and beyond?

Remember the hectic competition winner midnight trolley dash of 2003 when Steve McClaren raced round Signings 4 U and grabbed Malcolm Christie and Chris Riggott from the slight seconds shelf heaved 'England hitman' Michael Ricketts in from the pies and puddings aisle?

That night was so frantic that the next day Boro emptied the basket and discovered they had forgotten they had picked up Doriva along the way.

Remember? There was a time when money was no object and Boro could plausibly make a move for - and be snubbed by - any marquee player on the planet.

Well, Thursday night won't be anything like that. Oh no. We won't even get a Lee Miller.

Our best bet for excitement is if the fizzing and sparking parody-powered T-3000 Android Scoopbot Jim White finally melts down and malfunctions then runs amok in the studio, strangling our Hayley before unleashing all out robot war on humanity. Live! We'll be right back after the break!

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Assuming that won't happen - I think it will sooner or later but let's err on the side of caution for now - Boro's dramatic tension on the night will be fending off last gasp transfer ram-raids from rivals.

Boro's biggest countdown conundrum will come if a big club comes in with an offer for one of Mogga's 'crown jewels.'

It is a sign of the times that there has been so little tabloid speculation about Boro players. A bit yes. Almost apologetic, half-hearted contractual obligation tittle-tattle that the authors don't even really believe themselves.

A paragraph here about West Ham and West Brom having a peripheral interest in George Friend, a line tagged on the end of a sneering report on flappy wristed Brad Jones mentions a Liverpool watching brief on Jason Steele, an internet snippet suggests Swansea in for Marvin Emnes (checks date, oh scratch that one, its from last year.) Oh yes, it's going to be a big one.

At this point it is mandatory to mention the prospect of "silly money" exchanging hands weakening Boro's resolve. That is the international recognised Standard Unit in these things.

If a well wadded window shopper comes in with silly money for one of those key component parts then there will be some very hard decisions to make. Let's hope Mogga doesn't need to make them.

For the third window running Boro's key strategic objective will be to hang on to first team fixtures and get to the fateful bongs still intact. There's Thursday's tension. Don't expect to bring any new faces in. Boro haven't got the money to do that.

Why else do you think Boro are preparing a pay-as-you-play short term deal for injury ravaged Kieron Dyer?

It is not because he is a long coveted player that Mogga sees as the final piece of the jigsaw, the one player he always wanted to make the midfield machine tick.

It is because he is available. It is because he is free. It is because his chequered past and BUPA loyalty card mean he is willing to accept low wages and terms weighted heavily in favour of the club. He doesn't want a two year deal, a big basic and a signing on fee.

That makes him a no-risk signing, a cut-price addition to the squad. If he is fit and can bring something different, why not?

He may well turn out to be a figure in the mould of portly pass-master Bobby Murdoch who arrived on a free, long past his best, overweight and with creaking knees but who pulled the strings and galvanised a promotion push.

He could equally turn out to be like Branco, a portly pass-master on a free, long past his best and with the mobility of the Angle of the North who er, was a complete an utter disaster. We'll see. If he is, he can be pedalled quickly at no cost.

But that he is even being considered when Boro fans are crying out for Luciano Becchio, Chris Burke or Charlie Austin tells its own story.

Yes, Boro could do with an out and out goalscorer to convert some of those chances but without sacrificing a trump card, say Steele, it is not going to happen on Thursday.

Boro can't compete for those players, even against well resourced Championship sides.

"Why don't they sign Barry Robson instead of Dyer," goes up the cry. He's here. He's training. He's a free agent. It is just as convenient for everyone.

Well, tactic considerations and squad balance aside - Grant Leadbitter was brought in to do the midfield drive role and is doing it well - the key is that he would want a two year deal and would want a wage somewhere close to where he was at Boro six months ago.

Even on a 'conservative' eight grand a week that is a hefty £800,000 investment in a 34-year-old. Sheffield United have clearly got more dosh than Boro right now. And beside, they need to bring in someone to fight for the ball from Tony Mac at free-kicks,

Boro couldn't afford to splash out that kind of money on a short-term stop gap who has left once. That is the wages of a player they may want and need in the summer in the next phase of the team rebuilding.

"Why doesn't Gibson show some ambition?" shouts the phone-in and pub chorus. "Get us promoted. Get the Bennett money spent!"

The word "ambition" in football is interchangeable with the word "money." And there is plenty of that being shown.

Steve Gibson is still spending the best part of £1m a month to support a club that has massive running costs, declining revenue and - still, despite all the pruning - one of the biggest millstone wage bills in the Championship.

And there is no "Bennett money." It wasn't put in a little box marked "transfer kitty". It has been swallowed up by the day to day needs of the club long ago. And rightly so.

All income the club can raise goes to run the operation as a whole: the stadium up-keep and utilities, the pitch, the rates, running the training complex, the £2.5m a year for the Academy, scouting, travel and hotels for the team at away games... it all adds up.

The club is currently losing about £800k a month, and Gibson is writing a cheque to cover the shortfall. That is the extent of his "ambition."

After wiping the £90m debt of two years ago there is no outside financial pressure - no banks or major creditors to pay - hence no "need" to sell but equally, the club is far from flush and there is no room in the wage bill to commit to long term contracts unless the manager can clear space first.

That situation will ease in the summer when the costly Steve McManus and Nicky Bailey deals are up and those wages can be redistributed. In the meantime any gaps will be filled will dirt cheap or free transfers, loans or creative work in the market.

So don't expect yellow rolling ticker-tape or Jim White's head to start spinning and his circuits blow out over anything Boro do on Thursday.

But pass me a beer.

******

Join in with the the annual multi-media deadline day live joke, rumour and - occasionally - news update marathon here on the blog or via twitter @untypicalboro You kinow it makes sense. And I promise not to run amok or spontaneously combust.


9 Comments

Percypieblocks said:

That's really depressing AV, even though we know it already but if no signings is the price we have to pay (Well Gibbo), for keeping the club alive and finally being run properly, it a price worth paying.


But we all know if the chairman can do something to help Mogga then he will do his utmost. I'm still optomistic about another signing besides Dyer but I will understand if there's not.


**AV writes: Maybe the prospect of a big crowd and TV dosh from the Chelsea game may just release the purse strings but it must be said, there has been no hint of that whatsoever.

Geoff Young said:

I agree with what you say AV but consequently I don't think we have a realistic chance of promotion this year either because of your above points so lets stop dreaming and hope we strengthen to do it properly next season.

Jarkko said:

Let's not forget we have just got Rhys back and then Carayol will be back at Ipswich on Saturday. So two "new" signings already. And Woody - our marque player is back soon (I hope).


And then we "re-signed" a defender in McManus, too. So at least we have more players in numbers than recently (so most signings are coming from the treatment room). Perhaps you are on the wrong door, AV?


Agree with Percypieblocks. Dreaming about a striker but totally understand if none is signed.


Still with a chance to go up - even the 2nd spot is achievable. (And don't forget the Wembley in the FA Cup). Up the Boro!

Forever Dormo said:

Maybe the best advice, Vic, is to grab a few of the books that were suggested as good sports reading two or three threads ago. There won't be much Boro transfer news on SSN to deflect your attention from the books, so you will have a really good chance to catch up on the reading you hoped to do....some time later.


I am hoping that the end of the month will creep in without anyone noticing little Boro hiding away with hands over eyes and ears. That will at least mean keeping the players we want to - at this stage, Rhys and Friend for example.


**AV writes: I know... but Jim White. Harry Redknapp interviewed through the wound down window. The viillage of the damned car park doyle fests at Stoke. Jim White. So much entertainment. This is magnetically awful voyeurism.

Ian Gill said:

It has started.


Jim White is attached to the charging point topping up power levels. Cliches are being checked as we await his appearance.


Meanwhile back at cocoa and digestive land we will snooze through it without being disturbed.

Ian Gill said:

Sky tell us that Swansea have agreed a fee with Boro for Danny Graham! Rubs eyes and checks back of Sofa but cant find anything other than a few stale crisps.


Where did that deal come from? Is it true?


Get the Eric cardie on and tells us more.


**AV writes: We are checking it. There wasn't the slightest hint yesterday.

lenmasterman said:

Wow! Where did that Graham deal come from? £5million seems like a lot, but it could do the trick for us. Good on you Mr Gibson.

And here was I thinking that the main interest of the day lay in watching Harry put QPR into administration.


David Craig standing outside the Sunderland ground looks like a man who has gone to a party at which no- one has turned up. He's trying to spin the Graham story as a tug-of -love between Boro and Sunderland. Looks like desperation to me. ('No one knows what Danny Graham thinks';'there may be some travelling up and down the A19 ' etc etc.)


Looks like the only person who should be travelling down the A19, Dave, is you.

Werdermouth said:

It's interesting that Boro won't risk splashing a bit of cash to improve their chances of securing PL riches next season - whereas QPR are about to throw tens of millions at a shed-load of players in an attempt to secure those same PL riches next season.


Furthermore, QPR owner Tony Fernandes said he'll quit the club if they get relegated - so does that mean they'll go into administration and have their debts written off in exchange for a non-tangible 10 point penalty?


It sounds crazy to me that clubs are allowed to put themselves into such financial situations without regard to the consequences and everybody just shrugs their shoulders and walks away to the next club on the list.


Having said that I hope Boro can pluck a striker from somewhere as non of ours seem to be genuine goal scoreres who can reward all our decent approach play.


**AV writes: Chris Samba... £12.5m plus £100k a week. That is going to sting in the Championship next year on crowds on 17,000

dudwilliams said:

Please get real. Graham is the guy we passed off to Carlisle for sweeties. Only possible is Emnes swap.


A propos nostalgia is that the lenmasterman is an old classmate. Can there be two of them? If it is get in touch my Email is attached


dwilliams5740@talktalk.net


**AV writes: Friend Reunited.

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