Will Boro get bogged Down by Stewy affair?
The transfer window is not even a week old and it already feels like it has been open for a lifetime as the ongoing ‘will he - won’t he?’ saga surrounding Stewart Downing’s bid to jump the Boro ship for Spurs looks set to rumble on.
It is not the first time that Downing has been linked with a move to Tottenham, but it is the first time he has actively slapped in a transfer request in order to try and engineer a move to White Hart Lane and that is where the problem lies for Boro!
Ahead of the window opening last month I discussed how the vultures were already circling and what the ramifications could be for the club if the likes of Downing were allowed to go.
At the time the powers-that-be seemed prepared to fight off any interest in the club’s best players unless silly money was put on the table. However now the window has opened and Spurs are tabling a deal worth £14.5million for a player that clearly does not want to be at Boro anymore and they are refusing to play ball!
I cannot understand Steve Gibson’s insistence that nobody is leaving Boro under any circumstances this January?
Surely it would be better if we adopted the same stance that Aston Villa took with Liverpool over Gareth Barry last summer when they set a fee and told the Reds to match it or forget about signing him?
By telling Spurs we are not doing business at all means we are lumbered with a player who does not want to be here for the second half of the season in which we will need 110% commitment from everybody in the squad and everyone pulling in the same direction.
If we set a fee and it is matched then we have three weeks and big bucks to go out and sign a few more badly needed players, while Adam Johnson may be given a chance down the left or Celtic’s Aiden McGeady could be snapped up as a replacement at a fraction of Downing’s fee.
There is the argument that you should never let go of your best players, but I feel it is different when the player in question does not want to be at the club.
The football odds suggest you will be relegated if you sell your better players, but history suggests you will also be relegated if you have players around who don’t want to be there as it can have a negative impact on the rest of the dressing room.
Personally I would tell Spurs to stump up £16million – what they paid for right midfielder David Bentley in the summer – or forget it! If they do then take a gamble, sell Downing and use the money to sign players who want to be at Boro. If they don’t pay up then at least Downing will know they cannot be too desperate for his signature!
The problem is that while the situation continues who knows what sort of an impact it will have on results on the pitch. And with Sunderland, West Brom and Blackburn coming up before January 31 we cannot afford that risk!
- Warnock explains reasons for collapse of proposed Yannick Bolasie deal
- Yannick Bolasie confirms Boro deal was signed ahead of transfer deadline
Written by Craig Smithson, a Middlesbrough season-ticket holder and a sports writer who blogs about football betting.