Transported Out

Posted by on Mar 6, 2010 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A common strategy for managers taking a team up into the Premier League is to “give the lads who got us there half a season, if it doesn’t work, bring in new blood”. A parallel technique has largely been used over the past couple of seasons on descending into the Championship. Newcastle decided to bank on those who ushered the club down to usher them back up and this is a policy that appears largely to have succeeded. True, some particularly coveted jewels were offloaded in Owen and Martins, but the Magpies decided to gamble on an automatic return.

So has it been a few kilometres to the south. Stuart Downing’s injury proved insufficient to detract suitors and Tuncay finally exited, but Middlesbrough’s additional offloads were those who had become unwanted – that byword for financial excess, Alfonso Alves’ name must be seared across Gareth Southgate’s heart just as the word Calais was tattooed on that of Mary I of England.

A recent post on the reliably superb SmogBlog has summarized Middlesbrough’s February very well. The Teessiders may lie only a brace of points off the play offs but it’s been a dreadful season in all reality and no sane judge would pick them out as capable of a quick return. As early as an on loan stint at Wolves in 2005-6, one suspected that Jeremie Aliadiere was unlikely to make it and his has been one of the most protracted honeymoon periods for a former youth starlet one has seen – maybe, his formative years in the Arsenal academy and emergence with a British accent have saved him from the scrapheap, but Boro fans have long run out of patience. Similarly, Emmanuel Pogatetz, as rugged as a Tyrolean mountain pass in winter, looks like he will be on his way soon – Middlesbrough fans seem finally have understood what the rest of us have known for some time: that the bemasked one’s discipline makes him a liability.

It’s not been an auspicious season either for once £10 million rated David Wheater either – and Boro must cash in if his value drops too alarmingly, just as they did with Adam Johnson in the transfer window. Barry Robson’s two penalties in the win over QPR and the form of Willo Flood have provided green shoots, but Gordon Strachan, realist as he is, will see the remainder of the season as a chance to complete the rebuilding process, with Gary O’Neil retained as the kind of lynchpin a team can be constructed around.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 50 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.


  1. scarf
    March 8, 2010

    Hmmm. Good post, but…I'd argue Boro's wasn't so much of a gamble as Newcastle's was because their wage bill was relatively small when they came down anyway – a lot of the big earners – Schwarzer, Rochemback, Medieta, Boateng, Huth and Yakubu were moved on during the previous two seasons, explaining to a great extent why they were relegated in the first place. A team whose first choice goalies are Ross Turnbull and Brad Jones are not going to stay in the Prem. Their squad at the start of the season was a relatively modest-budget Championship team…and by bringing in a few more Championship-quality players they will likely finish…mid-table in the Championship!

    Longer term Boro will be OK because they got rid of most of their excess baggage (Alves, Tuncay (good though he is), Downing (ditto) and Mido) before the start of the season. They are not gambling their future on a quick return like Newcastle have done. Gambles are fine when they pay off, but as teams like Coventry and Leicester have seen, if they don't….

  2. Lloyd
    March 9, 2010

    Mido is actually still contracted to 'boro. I'm not sure whether they are contributing to his wages while he's at West Ham, though.

    Strachan has spent a lot of money relative to how reluctant most have been. If I remember rightly, his brief was to chalk up a play-off spot this season, which Steve Gibson felt was beyond Gareth Southgate. Looks like it's mission failed for Gordon and Steve.


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