Monday, 23 July 2007

Southgate seeks Young blood

Boro's new right-back?

Having agreed a £2.5million fee with Charlton on Friday, England full-back Luke Young was at Hurworth today for a medical. Personal terms are yet to be agreed but Young looks set to make a swift return to the Premiership. Young would be Boro's fourth signing and should provide at least half of a solution to our problematic right flank.

There has been a surprising amount of unease amongst fans over the summer's transfer activity. Steve Gibson's 'spectacular' comments have already achieved infamy. Perhaps he felt it was necessary to boost morale after Mark Viduka's sickening departure, perhaps he had an eye on the season ticket deadline or perhaps some of those ridiculous rumours about Riquelme, Schweinsteiger and van Nistelrooy(!!) had a grain of truth in them. The fact is Gibson promised nothing and we can only guess who the club has tried and failed to sign this summer. This fixation with who the club haven't signed means many overlook the work which has been completed.

Gareth Southgate seems to be taking a more long-term view on how to take the team forward. This approach is long overdue. Bryan Robson's failure to match the mesmerising talents of Juninho, Ravanelli and Emerson with an even vaguely competent defence was catastrophic. The club have spent the time since over-compensating. The latter years of the Robson era may have brought top-flight stability but they also produced an overly defensive approach and some very short-sighted signings. Steve McClaren was left with a bloated squad that was too old, paid too much and had negligible re-sale value.

McClaren splurged the bounty of the Carling Cup victory on experience for the European campaign ahead. The successes - Hasselbaink, Zenden and Viduka - have not stayed long enough to have a team built around them. As for the Boro careers of Parlour and Reiziger, we may as well have just burned several thousand pounds at the start of the season and spared the Riverside crowd. Once again our new manager was left an unbalanced and ageing squad.

Southgate seems intent on a more considered approach. This summer we have continued to see clubs throwing startling amounts of money after bad players. A market in which you need over £10million to buy Kieran Richardson and Michael Chopra will never favour the buyer. The increase in spending power created by overseas takeovers and the new TV deal does not mean the standard of players available is any more impressive than it has been before. There are plenty of clubs willing to throw huge money at average players (although West Ham are doing enough for several on their own) - there is no need for us to join them.

Luke Young would be reasonably priced, the right side of 30 and committed, contractually at least, to the club for more than one or two years - just as Woodgate, Tuncay and Aliadiere are. The team should be fitter, faster and younger next year. This belated shift in approach may finally lead to the club achieving the league positions to match the investment made - it may not happen next year but, for once, the club seem to be thinking more than one year at a time.