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Neil Warnock and Steve Gibson - Their relationship


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The morning after another hugely frustrating night for Boro fans. Once again we find ourselves bemoaning missed opportunities and a lack of cutting edge.

It was the same old story at Hillsborough that it has been numerous times already this season. The players produced an energetic display and ran themselves into the turf but lacked a clinical, ruthless streak that is so important at the business end of the league.

I'll give you a prime example. Early on in the game with the score at 0-0, Marvin Johnson wriggles free on the left hand side of the Owls penalty area. For one of the few times in the evening he does deliver a quality final ball into the box. It takes out the goalkeeper and flashes across the six yard box. Any striker/attacking player worth their salt would be stood there in position waiting for a tap in. In our case the ball fizzed out for a throw in on the opposite side of the pitch. With first goals so important in games you feel that we would have gone on to win had that opportunity been converted. Again.

Time after time we found ourselves in promising positions but our final ball was lacking, a moment of hesitation here, a lack of technique there, failing to hit the target when it would have almost certainly have resulted in a goal. Fans watching at home, like me, throwing their arms in the air in typical Boro frustration. 

I would hazard a guess that we have thrown away 6-9 points already this season in such situations. Games where we have been in control but haven't had the guile, quality, killer instinct to snatch vital points. Those extra points would have us 2nd or 3rd in the league.

And so we come to the relationship between manager and chairman. So often a strained one but it's different at Boro isn't it? Steve Gibson usually always has a good working relationship with the man he hires (Garry Monk aside). Our managers frequently lavish praise on the chairman in the local and national press. So why has Steve Gibson got it so wrong in recent times?

He has a habit of entrusting bang average managers with a huge transfer budget and denying the better ones the tools they need to finish the job. Strachan - backed, Mowbray - penniless, Monk - backed, Pulis - backed, Warnock - penniless. Can you see a pattern developing here?

Neil Warnock has spoken glowingly about the club and the chairman. He has been waiting for this chance all his career in fact. He does not hide his admiration for Gibson and says that this is the only job he would come out of retirement for. Surely now is the time for Gibson to repay the faith that Warnock has put in him. 

When Warnock came he immediately identified the unbalanced nature of the squad. He spoke about the pressing need to add to certain areas, particularly in advanced attacking areas. Fast forward six months and he is still waiting for reinforcements to arrive in those key areas. Heaven knows what has happened with Patrick Roberts but he clearly can not see where he fits into his side. He is neither clinical enough to play in the role recently occupied by Watmore or hard working, responsible enough to play in one of the wide positions. I'll be amazed if Roberts is still here at the end of January and I have no doubt in my mind that the only reason we took him back on loan is because of our inability to get the players that the manager really wanted. His other recruit, again for zero outlay, has been Watmore. Thankfully the ginger genius has hit the ground running and looks a very astute acquisition. However, the fact that he is now our top scorer and has had a hand in so many goals this season whilst only being with us a month or so speaks volumes about the pressing need for attacking additions.

So, January looms and Warnock has revealed we only need two or three additions rather than the mooted four of five he had previously identified. That is fair enough in my opinion. It's not a case of the manager pandering to the chairman and trying to take some of the pressure off him. The fact is that since the season started a few players have really stepped up to the mark. Both Djiksteel and Bola have been magnificent and made those full back positions their own whilst Marvin Johnson has developed into our most potent attacking outlet on the left. With Watmore frequently occupying an inside right position he has been able to manage our deficiencies and keep us in touch.

This month marks a vital point in our season though. Even the most pessimistic supporter would surely agree that we have a better than average chance of reaching the playoffs at least. Considering that Warnock teams usually perform even better in the second half of the season this seems like an opportunity that simply can not be spurned. Steve Gibson must buck the trend of recent seasons and invest money at the right time. If he could find the cash, and I appreciate how fragile finances are in these troubles times, to back Neil Warnock with a few low risk, short term signings then I really think it would pay off. The mutual respect between the pair, the fact that they speak so highly of each other in both professional and personal terms must surely count for something. 

If we fail to back Neil Warnock in this window. If it costs us a chance to go up. If it means we remain in this league another season which results in Warnock walking away to enjoy his retirement. If these things all happen because we have another inept transfer window then I think we deserve all we get. A decade of championship mediocrity.

Big few weeks coming up.

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Great post Ozzy. I totally agree in the main. The biggest issue as we know is money. Gibson has been guilty of some bad business decision re managers and recruitment (all with the best of intentions though). Sometimes I think being a fan gets in the way of business acumen. I have seen people suggest he employ someone like a Peter Kenyon to run things on his behalf.

We are where we are, building the squad is paramount. We need pace out wide and a clinical muscular centre forward to get to where we need to be it seems to me. We have wasted funds, so now need to find gems. I just wish we could agree another couple of seasons with the astute Warnock. I worry the effect of the pandemic and wider economic climate is having on Gibsons ability to finance as we’d like. We just have to hope it pans out.

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Here's a little question for you.

Where do you think we would be in the league if the club had got Warnock the two attacking players he really wanted in Kieffer Moore and Yannick Bolasie?

For my part, I look at our style of play and how much we are crying out for an out and out right winger and a player that has the physical attributes, desire and nasty streak to get on the end of crosses that get put in the box. Those two would have made a huge difference to us in terms of goalscoring. I don't think an extra ten goals so far already this season is an exaggeration.

Huge error of judgment by Gibson and Bausor again. Praying that they have FINALLY learnt their lessons.

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I think we would be in the play off spots, around 5 points or so more Ozzy. We desperately need power and pace out wide, I would suggest both flanks. A leader up top who puts himself about like Moore (Jutkiewicz another) and can head a ball would compliment nicely.

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41 minutes ago, OzzyPorter said:

Here's a little question for you.

Where do you think we would be in the league if the club had got Warnock the two attacking players he really wanted in Kieffer Moore and Yannick Bolasie?

For my part, I look at our style of play and how much we are crying out for an out and out right winger and a player that has the physical attributes, desire and nasty streak to get on the end of crosses that get put in the box. Those two would have made a huge difference to us in terms of goalscoring. I don't think an extra ten goals so far already this season is an exaggeration.

Huge error of judgment by Gibson and Bausor again. Praying that they have FINALLY learnt their lessons.

Well into play off spots.

Not sure how much either was a huge error from Gibson/Bausor though. Fact is, we don’t know how much money it would have taken to get Moore here, or whether money (unless stupid amounts) wouldn’t have changed his mind.. I guess if we had thrown enough money at him, he  might have come here, but he did seem set on Cardiff so even that isn’t certain. 

As far as Bolasie is concerned,  why did the transfer fall through? It does seem as though the club were only told something at last minute that affected decision. Whether that was misunderstanding between Bolasie and agent, or a deliberate attempt to try to get more money hoping club would roll over, I don’t know. The club has to set limits though and if it took cost over those limits, then I don’t blame them.

On Bolasie, if he was desperate to come to Boro, then he could have sorted out new financial terms in December, ready to sign straight away in January. The fact that there are no whispers of anything imminent may mean he is going to tout himself around all this month in hope of increasing offers near end of month. If this is case, I would rather we looked elsewhere.

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12 minutes ago, ScarBoro said:

Well into play off spots.

Not sure how much either was a huge error from Gibson/Bausor though. Fact is, we don’t know how much money it would have taken to get Moore here, or whether money (unless stupid amounts) wouldn’t have changed his mind.. I guess if we had thrown enough money at him, he  might have come here, but he did seem set on Cardiff so even that isn’t certain. 

As far as Bolasie is concerned,  why did the transfer fall through? It does seem as though the club were only told something at last minute that affected decision. Whether that was misunderstanding between Bolasie and agent, or a deliberate attempt to try to get more money hoping club would roll over, I don’t know. The club has to set limits though and if it took cost over those limits, then I don’t blame them.

On Bolasie, if he was desperate to come to Boro, then he could have sorted out new financial terms in December, ready to sign straight away in January. The fact that there are no whispers of anything imminent may mean he is going to tout himself around all this month in hope of increasing offers near end of month. If this is case, I would rather we looked elsewhere.

I can't really argue with that. We are not privy to the financial details of those deals. I just look at Moore and the goals he scores and think how much of a perfect fit he is for us. I do though, and this might sound crazy, have big hopes that Fletcher can turn himself into a similar type of player under Warnock. It's all about instilling a mean nasty streak into him because he has all the attributes. Moore up top and Fletcher just off him with the amount of crosses we put in the area would have scared the bajesus out of championship defences.

Interesting point about Bolasie too. I hadn't thought of that. If he really did want to play under Warnock again then he has had since September to agree terms so that he could sign as soon as the window opened.

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Agree with the suggestion that we need to back Warnock in this window to strengthen a thin squad, but Gibson's attitude towards managers is often at odds with those of the fans. Remember he was "heartbroken" when Pulis left. He rarely seems to be on the same page as supporters, which is understandable in principle but baffling in reality.

I'm sure Gibson likes Warnock, and the feeling is clearly reciprocal, but Warnock would have known the cupboard was bare when he came here after Woodgate's tenure and in the middle of a global pandemic than some clubs may not survive. While I'm sure he'd love to splash the cash, I suspect Neil knows he's working under tighter constraints than he did at Cardiff, though he still got them promoted.

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47 minutes ago, OzzyPorter said:

Interesting point about Bolasie too. I hadn't thought of that. If he really did want to play under Warnock again then he has had since September to agree terms so that he could sign as soon as the window opened.

Players do have to look after themselves, its not a long career and can be cut short easily. Its difficult to know when a player is just a total mercenary and when they are genuinely wanting to find a good long term career fit. How the players agent influences him is another factor. 

I just think with Bolasie that there's a suspicion he more concerned with the money.

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