Friday, 27 November 2009
Now we are about a third of the way through the season, I thought that it might be a good time to look back at some of the new additions to the squad, as Gareth Southgate prepared his team to conquer The Championship. We'll look at what impact the players have made and how their futures may pan out at Middlesbrough Football Club. I think its too soon to look at Gordon Strachan's additions, but I will be writing about Gordon in the coming weeks, and will include his signings in that post. So, on to the players...
Danny Coyne - Goalkeeper
Danny was a welcome signing to a proportion of the crowd, who realised that we were very short of cover in this department. He made an excellent start to the season, aided by Wheater and Huth, and was the only Championship keeper to keep clean sheets for his first four league games. It looked that we had found out number one, but then it all rapidly went down hill at home against West Brom, letting in 5, and gifting them their second by clearing the ball to an opposing player whilst someway off his line. Coyne then got a knock, was replaced by Brad Jones, and despite not always looking the best keeper has kept his starting place. I think that if Jones has a nightmare he might have a chance to re-establish himself under Strachan, but it does look like he is now our permanent number two.
Mark Yeates - Midfield
Gareth's second signing of the pre-season came from Colchester, and was keen to impress. He made a bright start to his Boro career against Sheff Utd, looking like one of the best players on the park, and creating Boro's best chance of the game but his shot went narrowly wide.
Since then his appearances have been sporadic, making a few starts and sub appearances. At times we see glimpses of what a player he could be, but I feel like he hasn't yet been given a chance to show his full worth to the side. Since Gordon Strachan took over we have only seen a few minutes from Yeates, as Strachan doesn't seem to fancy the Irishman. As he has not really featured recently could be a favourite to be moved on come January, but the attitude of Mark suggests to me that he'll stay and fight to get back into the team.
Leroy Lita - Striker
Leroy was what Boro needed - an experienced Championship striker - with an fairly impressive strike rate in the Championship. He debuted against Sheff United, but waited until the fourth game of the season to make his mark for Boro by scoring a difficult chance against Doncaster, in a 2-0 home win. He went on then to score at Reading, his former club, and more recently against Notts Forest. Leroy has partnered Emnes, Aliadiaire, Folan, Bent and Kiston, but I am sure he is looking to forge a regular partnership, and to start converting a higher percentage of his chances. Lita has been known as a trouble causer in the past, but I'm positive with the right partner up front, and a regular run in the side he is more than capable of getting at least 15 goals this season.
Caleb Folan - Striker (On Loan From Hull City)
Somewhat of a panic signing from Gareth (or so it seemed, especially with his goal scoring record), Caleb joined us from Hull after falling out of favour with Phil 'The Perma-Tan Man' Brown. Debuting in the 5-0 home defeat to West Brom his Boro career didn't get off to the best start, then a subsequent injury has kept his off the pitch for the best part six weeks. He seems to be a hot favourite to get shipped back to Hull now Strachan has arrived, but only time will tell. The Leeds born striker was keen to impress and earn a contract when he arrived, so with any luck once fit he'll be trying his hardest to get back into the team.
I think whilst Gareth was trying to address the major areas of concern within the squad, the players that he brought in, Lita aside, are just not of the quality to be challenging for automatic promotion. Is this because Gareth was given little backing by Steve Gibson and so he had to buy this quality of player, or was Steve holding the money back because he was getting sick of it been wasted on flops. Either way, funds are now available for Gordon Strachan, and prior to January I'll post a similar piece regarding his signings, and maybe give some predictions for the January transfer window.
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