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Wilder's window of ...
 

[Sticky] Wilder's window of opportunity to build promotion squad

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werdermouth
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I must admit I'm surprised that Boro weren't able to secure any major permanent signings given they received a huge windfall of £22.5m (potentially rising to £32.5m) from the sales of Tav and Spence. Talk of not wanting to overpay for players surely has to be taken the context of receiving probably more than expected from Tav and Spence in an inflated market and also not ending up with the players they wanted after a net spend of just under £6m on Forss and Hoppe - neither whom look to be starters.

Failure to reinforce the midfield could be a problem waiting to happen - I already mention that this season was going to be preloaded because of the Qatar World Cup with most weeks seeing two games a week. Most of the season will have passed before the January window closes and there's still no guarantee of signing those elusive players - plus prices in January tend to be even higher.

Not replacing Payero is risky given he was actually last season's marquee signing and Tav has been replaced by an inferior player in Mowatt. Giles and Muniz are at least improvement as are the two keepers in Roberts and Steffen - though it's not a long-term build as four of those five key players are loans.

Whether Wilder wanted to or not he may be checking out the academy for reinforcements come October - the overall verdict is that recruitment have fallen short this summer despite bringing in ten players only about half of them will play a significant number of games as they are predominantly cover. While the club may have a healthy bank balance, it's on the pitch where that money needed to be if Boro were serious about a promotion challenge - Wilder now needs a lot of luck to get through to January with Boro still in contention for the play-offs.


Selwynoz
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@jarkko 

Regarding lack of cover in midfield, I would suggest that McGree is also viewed as a potential midfielder - perhaps even in a moment of need playing on either side of the field - rather than just as a number ten and I wonder if Mowatt can play in Howson's role rather than everyone seeing McNair as the primary replacement.

Can I also ask whether anyone thinks that we should be looking at the free agent market. There are some good players out there even if most of them are of an age that doesn't quite fit with the plan for the future. 

utb


werdermouth
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Posted by: @jarkko

To continue my latest post on here.

On Twitter someone said (or should I say sang):

• Joe Gibson, Right Midfield and right-footed, 20 yr old

• Hayden Hackney, Central Midfield, 20 yr old

• Kamil Conteh, Central Midfield and right-footed,  19 yr old

I cannot think any other for cover in midfield.  Up the Boro! 

There's also Boyd-Munce of course - he didn't look too bad when he's come on


PaulInBoro
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There has been a lot of pearl clutching on the Inter Web about our lack of signings yesterday, the usual quote is why haven't we we spent the 22M from outgoings, well for the defence we may have got 7M of that as down payments approx what we have spent, 2nd piece of evidence is

https://twitter.com/KieranMaguire/status/1563549686644248576?t=y4rzc5P2lPImUyW520OlxQ&s=19

Now that is an eye watering sum, let's not forget Mr Gibson is wealthy beyond averise for the average boro fan, but not in a sport where clubs are owned by billionaires and sport washing countries. (Let's not forget the owner of Stoke paid herself £300M last year)

There is also the small matter of FFP which broke Derby and we don't want that to happen to us

Surely if we have a good manager he will be able to mould a winning team out of what we have, look what Bruce Rioch did with a bunch of teenagers and a couple of old heads, in my opinion my most enjoyable time watching boro, maybe because I was young.

 

This post was modified 3 months ago by PaulInBoro

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werdermouth
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@paulinboro 

We know Steve Gibson has been pumping in millions for years now so we don't doubt his commitment - I think FFP rules now limit an owner investment to cover losses to £8m per season.

Anyway, I think that graph in the link is a little misleading as I believe most of that debt was owed to Steve Gibson from pre-FFP day and it has since been written off - plus the club went through a lot of belt tightening under Pulis since the Monk splurge to ensure FFP compliance.

While it's true to say transfer sales come in installments, the same is true of purchases too - the accounting practice is to spread transfer money over the length of contracts so you never really get to spend the whole sum but then the same is true of purchases so it tends to balance out.

I suspect Boro planned to spend at least an additional £10-12m in this summer window but chose to play hardball on what they were willing to spend. So I believe the club underspent, which may prove to be costly on the pitch. Wilder certainly expected three more signings so he'll definitely feel short-changed by the recruitment process.

This post was modified 3 months ago by werdermouth

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K P in Spain
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@werdermouth.  We also spent c.2.5M on Matt Clarke.  

I suspect that the wages for the loanees will not be cheap, Steffen, Giles, Mowat and Muniz, which together with the transfer fees we paid will probably eat up most of what we effectively received for Tav.

I was always of the view that all the funds received for outgoings would not be spent on incomings as there has been plenty of press speculation that we might be sailing close to the limits on FFP and funds may need to be retained to balance the books.  I am therefore not surprised we did not recruit further.  

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens in January but the big question at the moment is have the recruitment team done enough to make us more than a middle ranking team. 

It will also be interesting to see the crowd reaction if we fail to beat Sunderland on Monday.  😎

This post was modified 3 months ago 2 times by K P in Spain

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werdermouth
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@k-p-in-spain 

Yes I forgot to include Matt Clarke in the money spent and he signed on a three-year contract - money well spent! Not sure how much the loans cost but I still believe Boro were planning to spend big on a marquee striker and nearly got Frank Onyeka on loan but was scuppered by that injury to Christian Norgaard - plus Wilder wanted to sign another midfielder. I'm sure the plan was to spend most of the intial Spenc/Tav money but recruitment were unable to get the deals done for various reasons. Probably didn't help in the negotiations to know that Boro had received over £20m in sales!


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deleriad
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Well this is now Wilder's window of opportunity to prove his mettle as a manager. The club has embarked on a massive overhaul of the squad and got about 75% of the way through it before time ran out. Keepers, defence and forwards have been, on paper, upgraded. The midfield has definitely been downgraded. There are definite gaps and weaknesses.

This means that it's now down to Wilder to get the team performing at its peak; that's what we pay him for. This doesn't just mean putting his 11 best players on the pitch day in, day out until they collapse like overheated horses. It means finding the best system for them, managing their workloads and pitch time until the world cup, bringing in back-ups and developing younger players. 

For all its failings we still have one of the 10 best squads in the Championship and probably the best U23 set up outside of the Premier league. According to Transfermarkt we have the 6th most valuable squad in the Championship and that is probably about right. If we're not in the top 10 by Christmas then you have to figure that Wilder has significantly under-performed for most of 2022. 

If Wilder is sticking with his favoured 3-5-2 (nothing wrong with that) then our squad looks something like the following—using square brackets for players in more than 1 position:

Keeper: Steffen, Roberts, Daniels

RWB: Jones, Smith, [Gibson]

LWB: Giles, Bola, Bilongo

RCB: Dijksteel, McNair, [Lenihan]

CB: Fry, Lenihan

LCB: Clarke, [McNair], [Bola]

RCM: Crooks, [McNair], Gibson

CM: Howson, [McNair], Hackney/Konteh

LCM: Mowatt, McGree, Boyd-Munce

Striker/#10: Akpom, Hoppe, [McGree]

Striker: Muniz, Forss, Watmore

I do think that this is a squad with potential. It's not the best in the league but it certainly shouldn't be anywhere near the bottom 10.


werdermouth
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Just to add further to the amount Boro were preparing to spend - they also had bid £5m for defender Jacob Greaves and something around £8m for Strand Larsen - if you take away the £2.5m Boro ended up spending on Matt Clarke then that's still over £10m of planned spending that didn't get spent. So I'm still of the view that Boro were not needing to belt tighten and were going to use most of the Spence/Tav cash.


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Ken Smith
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Maybe I’m cynical but I’ve never been able to take transfer rumours seriously. Until Middlesbrough FC confirm actual signings I’ve never been interested in all this malarkey about who the Boro might sign as it’s usually built on newspaper rumour. To me it’s all such a bore especially when there are so many alternative live sports to watch at this time of year. Perhaps we can all now concentrate on what is actually happening on the field of play especially as far as the Boro is concerned.

What’s the point of worrying about how injuries or suspensions might affect future results. It is what it is and surely we have enough academy players to step up. That’s how Brian Clough made his debut and more recently Dael Fry making his debut at Preston on the first match of the season in 2015 because there was nobody else because of injuries. What Boro need to do is to cut out the number of needless yellow cards suffered last season. Also it might help football in general if 15 minutes in the sin bin were introduced as a cooling-off period.

This post was modified 3 months ago by Ken Smith

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Ken Smith
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Remember the First World War song:-

Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag               
And smile, smile, smile.                  
Whilst you’ve a lucifer to light your fag,                     
Smile boys, that’s the style.             
What’s the use of worrying,          
It NEVER was worthwhile.            
So pack up your troubles in your old kit bag              
And smile boys, smile. 

When one thinks of the stress our soldiers were going through at that time, it was good advice. I’ve never worried about my various health problems, but if I had I’d have probably died 5 or 6 years ago. So I’m sure as hell I’m not going to worry about things that I have no control over including football. I’m lucky to be fairly comfortable financially which many of my age are sadly not. Stress is one of the commonest attributes to death so I ain’t going to worry about the Boro. It is what it is, so “Que Sera, Sera”.

Of course like every other Boro fan I want them to have a successful season which is still quite possible, but I’m not going to worry about it as I think back how lucky we Boro fans are to still have a football club and the best Chairman in the country after the trauma of 1986. 

 

 

 

This post was modified 3 months ago by Ken Smith

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Malcolm
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While sitting in the sun  I have been trawling through various Boro sites. About 80% think it has been a poor transfer window especially the last day knowing that Wilder wanted 3 or 4 players. Some say Wilder might walk and others commented that he has been let down by the club. Just saying.

...


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K P in Spain
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Again I find myself very much in agreement with Deleriad and to put it another way, management is about the deployment and utilisation of scarce resources to achieve one’s aims; in other words Mr Wilder, it’s show time!😎

This post was modified 3 months ago by K P in Spain

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werdermouth
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@malcolm 

'Poor' is a bit over the top - three problem areas have been fixed with new keepers, left wing-back and left centre-back and Lenihan and Mowatt have added solid experience.

However, not taking advantage of the Spence/Tav windfall has been a missed opportunity as Boro should have added at least two or three top quality players.

Recruitment of a couple of projects at the sharp end seemed to lack coordination but Boro have instead unexpectedly recycled Akpom and taken a punt on Muniz, who has so far looked up to the task.

Midfield has been left short by the departures of Tav and Payero, which will probably see McNair needed in that department on a regular basis with perhaps McGree dropping back for some games once Akpom is recovered and Watmore is fitter.

So overall I would give recruitment somewhere close to 6 out of 10 and hope Muniz continues to show promise and midfield injuries are not major ones.


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exmil
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Werdermouth, please do not think I am having a go but after reading all your above posts, how much of the Spence/Tavernier income do you think has been offset against falling foul of FFP. It was in the media earlier this year that ourselves, Bristol City (and maybe others) are under investigation by the EFL for breaking FFP rules, we spent around £8m on transfers, not counting the cost of loans plus how much did we really get “upfront” on those transfers. Over the COVID period (18/24 months) with no crowds, how much were MFC running at a loss, I believe FFP is on a 3 yr continuous cycle, as far as I can remember (I’m sure you will correct me if I’m wrong) the last financial report (2019/20 ?) showed we made a £30m loss.

In my opinion, we can no longer make multi million pound signings and have to cut our cloth appropriately, this is why we set a value on a player and walk away when the selling club puts a ridiculous price on the player. Yes, we have thrown money away in the past, but that is water under the bridge, now I think we are on a more sustainable path and really only certain people in MFC know the true financial state the club is in.

Come on BORO.


Pedro de Espana
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My biggest disappointment has been the midfield and that it has not been upgraded. Yes losing Tav was possibly something not foreseen, however the midfield was not good enough last season in my opinion.

We all understand that we have to keep within FFP and may need to hold back some of the money we will ultimately receive from Tav and Spence. However if you believe all that has come out of the club from different sources, then Werder's take on what we possibly were willing to spend is relevant. 

For what ever reason it has not happened is past and Mr Wilder has to just get on with it. Deleriad was spot on as was KP.  CW has promoted himself and whilst I do not an issue with that, he does however have to deliver the goods. 

Irrespective of only bringing in ten new players, the squad is generally stronger and more balanced  than last season. So where we are in the table is just not good enough and if we are not in the top ten and within touch with the top six by the World Cup, then some very hard questions have to be asked.

It would not surprise me if Mr Wilder is not with us by then. There will have been a number of Coaches sacked by that time, he may be one of them or he may have left to join another club.

I hope I am totally wrong and we start to win some games and start climbing the table, fast.

 

 


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deleriad
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Posted by: @exmil

In my opinion, we can no longer make multi million pound signings and have to cut our cloth appropriately, this is why we set a value on a player and walk away when the selling club puts a ridiculous price on the player. Yes, we have thrown money away in the past, but that is water under the bridge, now I think we are on a more sustainable path and really only certain people in MFC know the true financial state the club is in.

The club's accounts are on Companies House so things are somewhat transparent. There are two separate but related issues.

1) Is the club making a loss and, if so, is it at risk of bankruptcy?

2) Is the club sticking within the FFP guidelines?

1) We are definitely making a loss which is being covered by Steve Gibson through his company Bulkhaul. Over the years we have accumulated a lot of debt which is owed to Bulkhaul. If Bulkhaul goes bust, is taken-over or Gibson decides to call in his debts, we are in deep in the brown stuff. On the plus side, we have enough assets (players, infrastructure, academy etc) that we would probably have no problems finding a buyer who would be willing to pay off the debts.

2) We are fairly comfortably within FPP guidelines. There are all sorts of expenses that can be ignored for FPP purposes including those that are the direct result of covid. If we had spent £20m on a "marquee" striker and midfielder, we would use up most of our FFP wriggle room. 

The big picture is that if we had spent most or all of the money from Spence and Tav we would be getting close to the FFP borders. Gibson and the club seem to have decided that they want a certain amount of headroom financially and to keep the club minimising it losses. 

Right now, I guess the club has a war-chest of around £10-15m that it might spend on the right player(s). One quirk of FFP is that it measures a 3-year cycle so, say you buy a marquee striker for £10m and you pay him £40K/week with a 4 year contract (usually 3 years plus a 1 year extension) then, for FPP purposes you don't "spend" £10m immediately, you spend 1/4 of the amount each year for a 4 year contract. So... over a three year cycle that striker costs you £7.5m of their £10m transfer fee plus 3 years at £40K/week (£6.25m). This means the striker "costs" £13.75m over three years. All a long way round of saying that the club's accountants look at the total cost of signing a striker over three years. One downside of the sales of Tav and Spence is that they were on quite low wages so although they got hefty transfer fees we haven't saved much on the wage bill. 

Short version. We're making a loss but it's comfortably within FFP limits. Although we do have money to spend, it is probably no more than around £15m and that has to cover not just transfer fees but also player wages over three years. These days we would struggle to buy a single Premier league standard player with that amount of money. 


werdermouth
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@exmil 

I'm only basing my estimates on what we know the club were planning to spend based on bids they had made for players like Larsen and Greaves and that Wilder seemed to think two more midfielders were aimed to be signed. On that basis, I reckon another £10-12m was earmarked for transfers and then the contracts of the players signed on top of that.

I'm not an accountant and am never really sure how the relationship with MFC and Gibson O'Neil works exactly in terms of how the loss is financed or likewise gives tax relief etc. Only to say Boro have always kept within FFP but I believe there was some relaxation of the rules due to Covid losses.

The argument that if Bulkhaul pull the plug then the club could be in trouble is one that I don't understand as Steve Gibson essentially owes the money to himself so there's no gain in doing such a thing. I think it was back in 2012 that all the club debts/loans were basically brought under the Gibson O'Neil umbrella - so the debt exists on paper but perhaps it's something that is planned to be brought into play only if Gibson ever sells up to another investor.

The reality is that Boro under Gibson have always operated on the limit of what he can legitimately pump into the club, which I guess has added up to something like £150m since he took over - but it's not a debt that puts the club at risk as quite simply Steve Gibson owns Boro and the debt is owed to himself. He could theoretically walk away and ask for the money back but he'd only succeed in put the club into administration to pay the main creditor - i.e. himself and would only succeed in making the club a cheap purchase for someone else while not getting most of his money back.

Accountancy is something of a game and it's all about financing and keeping just inside the rules for most club owners. Look at a big clubs like Man Utd they have debts of half a billion pounds but doesn't stop them buying a player for £100m or keeping within FFP.

As the saying goes: if you want to make a small fortune in football, start with a large one!

btw Here is the link to the most recent MFC accounts (June 2021)

This post was modified 3 months ago 2 times by werdermouth

deleriad
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Posted by: @werdermouth

The argument that if Bulkhaul pull the plug then the club could be in trouble is one that I don't understand

Bulkhaul won't pull the plug while Gibson is its owner for the reasons you mention. In terms of law, Bulkhaul is an entity in its own right. If Bulkhaul went under then a liquidator would be appointed to extract as much money from the company as possible to pay off its debts. At that point, the liquidator would try to call in the debts that MFC owes to Bulkhaul.

Likewise, if something happened to Gibson or ownership changed for some reason, the new shareholder(s) would appoint directors who may decide that they wanted to recover some or all of the debts owed to Bulkhaul.

Looking at the confirmation statements, there's approximately £65m in shares owned solely by Steve Gibson. (To be precise, at least 75% are owned by him.) If Gibson sells those shares to someone else, then MFC and Bulkhaul would no longer be part of the same company group and MFC would need to negotiate how it repaid the loans. 

Basically, while Gibson is the sole or majority shareholder of Bulkhaul and MFC, the two companies stand or fall together. Bulkhaul makes enough profit that it can loan MFC money each year to cover MFC's losses. If Bulkhaul failed it would be a crisis for MFC. Clearly it's not in Gibson's interest to call in the debts but if something happens to him or Bulkhaul that becomes a major problem for MFC.


lenmasterman
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deleriad and Werder,

Great posts.  Many thanks


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werdermouth
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@deleriad 

I perhaps shouldn't have said Bulkhaul as that has often been used incorrectly as it is the Gibson O'Neill Group who own both MFC and Bulkhaul - so the fortunes of one shouldn't really directly affect the other. If Bulkhaul went out of business then it's probably not directly linked to MFC so shouldn't require the Gibson O'Neill debt to be repaid to transfer money between the two - though not sure what happens if Steve Gibson himself was declared bankrupt and whether the Group that shares his name or subsiduaries are protected by their limited status - one for the accountants!

I think the debt to Gibson O'Neill probably serves a number purposes in terms of tax and potentially get some of it back should MFC be sold at some future point - perhaps if Boro were once again in the PL and getting their £120m+ per season in prize money plus holding the assets of more expensive players then there is probably scope to get some of that debt back if a super-wealthy investor was keen. But right now I doubt anyone would pay enough for the club to even consider taking on the debt.

Personally, I can't see anything other than a hypothetical risk to the club's future by having this debt with Gibson O'Neill - I presume Steve Gibson wouldn't have risked the club's future in having this arrangement - indeed, quite the reverse by having no external creditors the club is safer than most and is not at the whim of a foreign investor with no real ties to Middlesbrough.


Selwynoz
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@werdermouth 

I think your final statement is the key. Essentially MFC is being personally supported by SG through a structure that will certainly be as tax efficient as it can be made but has no danger of collapsing unless the GON group goes belly-up.

MFC itself is a loss-making company but that could easily be turned round if it ever gets back to the PL. That fact, coupled with the scale and quality of the club’s infrastructure means that a high wealth investor could see it as a reasonable punt and at that point it will be a private negotiation with SG as to how much of the debt is removed. 

One thing that I didn’t check is whether the MFC debt is interest-free. Anyway, even if interest is not being paid now, any future owner could take over the debt to SG or re-finance it at which point one could imagine a Man U style structure whereby the club pays for its own purchase either to the new owner or an outside lender. That would really only work if MFC as an entity was profitable. More likely is that when SG finally decides to sell, he will have to decide how much of his investment he can reasonably try to recover. Whether he gets tax relief on any loss will also come into it.

Anyway, all this underlines just how fortunate MFC has been to have stability and financial support through so many years and I don’t think that we can honestly quibble if the owners want to do what they can to improve the ongoing financial position of the company. 

UTB ….and SG?


Malcolm
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Original Fat Bob
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Who would welcome back Gaston Ramirez?

The creative midfielder is a free agent after leaving Monza, where he only made just six appearances in Serie B.

So, with that in mind, it may not seem totally far fetched. Ramirez will be desperate to get back to playing his best football with some of that coming at his team at Middlesbrough.

He will add a creative spark in the final third, something Boro are currently missing after Marcus Tavernier’s departure and at 31, Ramirez has plenty to offer.

 

OFB


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Philip of Huddersfield
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I assume Bob that’s tongue in cheek re Ramirez!!
Wouldnt touch him with a barge pole after the way he left.

Not sure about the free agents - if any good surely they’d have been snapped up particularly as no fee needed. Biggest concern is lack of match fitness.

Now is the time for CW to prove himself with the squad at his disposal.

Monday, whilst not necessarily a ‘ must win’, it is certainly a must not lose but not optimistic of a win.

Philip of Huddersfield 

 


jarkko
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Someone summarized the Boro squad in Twitter quite well with a photo showing players we got at the moment. This shows players available per a position.

Up the Boro!

This post was modified 3 months ago by jarkko

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K P in Spain
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MFC website confirming that Maximo Luongo has joined on short term contract until January. 😎


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Selwynoz
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Well, things haven't gone very well so far, have they?

Apart from perhaps our resident Cassandras, this is a source of something between disappointment and dismay for all of us and we would like to see some signs of improvement. Part of the reaction is to call for Wilder's dismissal as if that is some magic formula that will somehow bring together this vastly changed squad.

Writing a while ago, I suggested that it would not be a suprise if we didn't challenge for promotion this season. We have a solid squad but not Championship-winning and we have young players who are doing well at Academy level or scattered round the leagues but not ready to make a difference this year. Therefore, assuming that we can avoid relegation and some miraculous Nottingham Forest-like transformation, this could be a mid-table season that sees the club doing no more than trying to get ready for future success.

Thus, the real question as I see it is to ask the supporters, the club and, more specifically, the owner to come clean and say exactly what is going to happen if things pan out this way. Is that going to be enough? Will the supporters accept a mid-table year without tearing down the stadium. Will the club leave the current management in place as part of a long term plan. I know that the words 'long term plan' don't often appear in football but maybe that's the best that we can hope for. In that case, would everything be calmed down by Steve Gibson coming out and saying quite simply

"The club is going through a transformation. We have long term faith in the management team. We are sorting out cost structures and will leave the current structure in place until next season when we expect to be much stronger."

I'm not sure how this would play out? Would the supporters accept a 'non-season'? Probably not and, to be honest, I dont know whether the management team would like to see their year written off. It's also fair to say that it's much too early for this to happen but further into the season, I can see us safely ensconced in mid-table with no chance of going up or down. Do we then accept the long term plan, accept Wilder and his team and wait for 23/24. Why not?

For me, I still believe in miracles because optimism is more fun than pessimism and I'm too old to always see the worst in things. Having said that, I'm also getting too old to wait forever for another season in the Premier League.

UTB


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