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Strachan: Incredibly smart or incredibly stupid?

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Gordon Strachan slip-up hints at Middlesbrough plans


George Caulkin


To usurp an old quotation, he had in his hand a piece of paper. Fresh from signing a four-year contract as Middlesbrough manager, Gordon Strachan posed for photographs with a young supporter outside the Riverside Stadium, clutching a note that demonstrated he meant business.


Scribbled on it was a team of footballers that may — just may — have been a list of possible loan signings.


A caveat: in the past five months, Strachan could have nurtured an obsession for fantasy football, although given that the players in question were a combination of old hands and young pups, it seems unlikely. Perhaps it was an early curve ball to the media, that, allowing for his quirky, quizzical nature, would not entirely be out of character, or even a gee-up to his present, promotion-chasing squad.


Not all the names were visible, the two central defenders and left winger were left blank (both are areas where his side is well equipped), and a number of alternatives were in brackets, but those captured on film were deployed in a 4-4-2 formation. They may also be optimistic given the financial strictures under which Middlesbrough are working, but it shows that Strachan is fully engaged and already plotting.

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For the record, Kyle Naughton, of Tottenham Hotspur, and Andy Griffin, of Stoke City, were the full backs. In midfield, Marc Albrighton and Isaiah Osbourne, of Aston Villa, have drawn his attention, as has Jack Wilshere, the Arsenal tyro, and Hayden Mullins, of Portsmouth.


Kevin Phillips, the Birmingham City veteran, and Federico Macheda, of Manchester United, were in attack.


Some of them would add experience — Middlesbrough have lacked it since their relegation from the Barclays Premier League — but all would provide quality and while yesterday marked the first occasion that Strachan has met his players, it is never too early to make plans.


Today, the players assembled by Gareth Southgate will have a double training session to look forward to.


If nothing else, Strachan is back. Since leaving Celtic at the end of last season, he has spent his time driving across America (from Route 66 to the A66?), and down the west coast of Ireland, not obsessing about returning to the game. “I could easily live without football,” he said. “I don’t mope about if I’m out of it, but I always watch it and when I’m in, I love it. I don’t need to be here. I’m here because I want to be here.”


Inklings of an opportunity arose late last month when Middlesbrough, who had just been thrashed 5-0 at home by West Bromwich Albion, travelled to play Coventry City. Strachan was present that day and spoke briefly to Keith Lamb, the Middlesbrough chief executive. “I asked if he was missing it and I got the same answer — no, but if the right offer came along, he would consider it,” Lamb said.


Lamb stated that Strachan “was one of a number of names floating around in my head” — Gérard Houllier, the former Liverpool manager, was another — when Southgate’s relationship with the fans was unravelling.


A more direct approach came in the aftermath of the 1-0 home defeat by Leicester City on September 29, but the Scot, 52, refused to enter into official negotiations while his predecessor was still in place.


Fairly or otherwise, Middlesbrough’s hierarchy has been criticised for its handling of Southgate’s dismissal — confirmed in the immediate aftermath of a victory over Derby County — but Lamb’s defence of the club’s actions was impassioned. “Before Gareth, we had sacked one manager in 15 years and if other clubs matched that, there would be a lot less blood on the carpet,” he said. “But Steve Gibson [the chairman] and I have to do what’s in the best interests of the club. It’s not our plaything, it belongs to the town and the fans.”


Aside from the arrival of Garry Pendry, Strachan’s long-time assistant, Middlesbrough’s coaching staff will remain intact. “Everything feels right here,” he said, “from the potential to be your own man, to the stability, everything. And if you can be Celtic manager for four years, you could be Prime Minister.” More Winston Churchill than Neville Chamberlain, hopefully, despite the piece of paper.




An idiotic blunder? Or trying to get bums on seats with the mention of names like Wilshire?

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bums on seats probably

At Boro ?

Visiting teams think the home fans must've got the date of the match wrong judging by the empty stadium.

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all I'll say is I wish we could have some of those players meant to be on his list.


I wish we could have some players...period.


Because he's Ginger.


And why does being ginger make someone UNintelligent ?

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all I'll say is I wish we could have some of those players meant to be on his list.


I'd be happy to have Strachan here because that would mean we'd got rid of the fat one because Strachan could never work with/for an idiot like Ashley. I also think he's a very good manager and his appointment has certainly increased the chances of the smoggies getting promoted this season.

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Guest Chris P

what ever happened to Ayresome park, Serves um right for building a stadium in the middle of a s*** hole, and it is a f***ing s*** hole


Their only saving grace of the whole place is Redcarr.


Seal sands an that.

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