June 2007 Archives
ARE WE on the verge of an exciting season of flexible football and drama? That is the bold intention as Boro boss Gareth Southgate prepares to rip it up and start again.
Here’s hoping. Recent years have produced real undeniable success - the Carling Cup victory and dramatic UEFA Cup adventure can not be dismissed likely - but in some respects the cautious, one dimensional functional approach that yielded those highs has eroded the soul and dampened the flames of passion at the Riverside and it is time for a radical change.
AND SO to Sheffield next week and the meeting of a selected panel of football's great and good to consider Tuncay's work permit appeal. I say appeal because his initial application will not meet the strict Department of Employment criteria and so is bound to be rejected on the grounds that he has not played the required 75% of Turkey internationals in the last two years.
But don't worry. He was injured for a while last year and so missed a string of games which saw him dip below the threshold. Boro will show that and the Turkish FA will verify it and the appeal should go through on the nod. Even if that line of attack were to fail - extremely unlikely unless the paperwork is processed by a civil servant who is Galatasaray until he dies - the decision should still be a formality as he ticks all the boxes as "a player of exceptional quality" and as a regular first choice selection for a nation ranked in FIFA's top 70.
TUNCAY has arrived on Teesside and was set to undertake the first batch of medicals today with a second round tomorrow with a view to signing his contract immediately after.
There had been reports of a hitch but Keith Lamb has dismissed them out of hand and hopes to push the deal through quickly. Judging by his first comments to the media Tuncay himself sounds positive and ready to get get stuck in.
After his medicals Tuncay will need to fly back home to Istanbul - to feed and water 'Mehmet' his beloved budgie - because the rules require he must be out of the country while the club apply for his work permit. The red tape is expected to be a formality.
WIDEBOY agent Barrry Silkman got himself into an undignified slanging match on Sky Sports News as he defended himself after being "named and shamed" by Lord Stevens in the bung busting inquiry report. He accused the former top cop of being "a 100% liar", blustered about litigation and being a scapegoat then - after being asked how much he made from the Fabio Rochemback deal - he became increasingly emotional, inarticulate and aggressive in a manner that belied any notion that he was smooth-talking deal-maker.
My heart sank. How could clubs - how could Boro - get involved with people like this? Even if he hasn't done anything illegal, and the questions at present revolve around failure to fully disclose the paperwork over some of his deals and illustrate the papertrail between himself and 'so-called super-agent' Pini Zahavi in the Yakubu transfer rather than any specific offence, even if he is a squeaky clean he is still a smarmy, brash, rude and dislikeable individual. He was Boro's agent of choice for several seasons but thankfully that relationship was severed last year... although the club are now having to deal with the fallout that has come with that relationship.
WE'RE OFF... the fixtures make it real. After weeks of speculative musing in a vacuum we suddenly have context again, a framework on which to build our annual delusions of imminent glory or inescapable fears that Boro will crash and burn. So get the diary out, start shuffling those work shifts around, whack in your lieu days and planning the away days.
Here's the full fixture list and a quick match-by-match preview of what is sure to be yet another crazy, frustrating and emotionally draining charge towards the Holy Grail of a UEFA spot....
STEVE Gibson is set to reveal the new look global scouting network that led Boro to Turkish superstar Tuncay Sunli. In an exclusive interview with the Gazette today he talked guardedly and kept the specific hidden about how the club have put in place a world wide army of eagle-eyed talent spotters to snap up burgeoning potential before bigger clubs are alerted and the price starts to soar.
But we can cut through the cloak of mystery. The move for Tuncay Sunli makes the new strategy obvious. Boro have pedalled Don Mackay and replaced him with a geeky gang of pizza-powered teenage gamers, bleary-eyed virtual dug-out gurus who are scouring the database of PC cult classic Football Manager for future stars with sizzling stats. Sunli is a bona fide FM Legend. It is obvious how he was spotted - by hours of sifting through the world best selling soccer supremo simulator.
COMRADES, forward to glory with the renewed Riverside Revolution!
After denouncing Trotskyist wrecker Mark Viduka for holding back the revolution during the course of the last five year plan, Comrade Keith Lamb has announced another Great Leap Forward: a bright new age of pace, work-rate, a high- energy entertaining ethic, young players who want to wear the shirt and a new wind of economic realism on wages.
But amid the chest-beating PR spin about an imagined future of blistering pace and goals aplenty there was the dull thud of a giant penny dropping.