Vultures are circling as New Year looms

Vultures are circling as New Year looms

It is that time of year again as everyone is jostling around to prepare for the big day with massive shopping lists and pangs of anxiety in case they are not able to get exactly what they want!

Yes the January transfer window is three weeks away from being declared open for business and the Premier League’s managers are all sweating on being able to bring in the right players for the right money, while others are squirming in their swivel chair hoping the phone does not ring with a mega-money offer for their star player who was going to get them out of the relegation mire!

Recent timely comments from chief executive Keith Lamb and Gareth Southgate have had sufficient content to suggest we will not be doing much more than scouring for free transfers and possibly snapping up a couple of Serbian superstars of the future.

I suspect Boro’s main concern will be ensuring they are not tempted into offloading a couple of star men in the new year to help ease the burden of the £69million worth of debt we have racked up on Sir Steve’s Master card!

However, after witnessing a host of players axed from the wage bill in the summer with a tidy profit made on Lee Cattermole and Luke Young in particular, I would suggest anymore cost-cutting measures could prove very costly!

So far the perennial Tottenham in for Stewart Downing has already reared its ugly head to create a rift amongst sections of the fans! Should we sell him and give Adam Johnson a whirl on the left wing, or snub any amount of money to ensure he stays put?

But the more worrying rumour which surfaced was linking Boro’s piece of Turkish delight Tuncay Sanli with a big-money move to Chelsea. True we would make a 100% profit on the free transfer signing, but in my view it could cost us a lot more in the long run!

Downing has struggled for goals but remains Boro’s main supply line to the strike force and is country miles ahead of the majority of his team-mates in terms of ability. Losing him would be really bad, but losing Tuncay would be off the scale in terms of disastrous in terms of our aspirations of staying in the Premier League, let alone reaching Europe.

The Turk is such an integral part of the team – which is blatantly obvious when he is not playing – that I would have a football bet that we would be relegation material without him! After all we have gained 16 points in the 11 games he has played and just three points from the five he missed – and that was in a fortunate win at Wigan!

The question the Boro bigwigs must ask is do we make a fast-buck now and run the risk of long-term losses without the riches of Premier League TV money?

One thing is for certain, I will not be completely happy until I know Downing and Tuncay are still part of our squad at 12.01am on February 1!

Written by Craig Smithson, a Middlesbrough season-ticket holder and a sports writer who blogs about football betting.

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