BORO’S move for Leeds United striker Ross McCormack seems to have stumbled over a hurdle.
The price is going up – £1m, £1.3m and higher – and their boss is saying that the boy is going nowhere.
Boro supporters may be starting to wonder if it is all turning into a wild goose chase.
They’ve seen it before where targets have got away or ended up at another club and then come back to bite Boro on the bum.
And you can see why fans are frustrated and nervous after the last few weeks when the club put a lot of time and effort on two or three foreign targets only for them to fall through and drift away at the last moment.
Even the purchase of Albert Adomah from Bristol City – which looks good business by the way – dragged out into a bit of a saga and looked to be wobbling at the 11th hour.
But believe me, signing a player is not always quick and it is not always easy.
I have known transfer moves drag out over weeks. Months sometimes.
But clubs do their homework to try to make sure they get it right.
They track players for ages – years sometimes – and they do a lot of groundwork before they make a move.
Of course they do. These guys are looking to spend millions of pounds in transfer fees and wages. You’ve got to do your homework. You’ve got to get it right. You can’t waste time going up a blind alley.
Clubs make unofficial approaches through agents and former players and contacts and mutual friends in the game to see if a target is interested in a move and in what circumstances.
I’ve personally seen that happen with team-mates where all the basics have been worked out behind the scenes long before anything happened above the surface.
And we are not talking about secret meetings in motorway service stations and tapping up, although that does go on.
I’m talking about what goes on quite openly between clubs. Not in the public eye but certainly not secret or underhand.
Managers phone managers on the quiet to see if someone may be available in the right circumstances.
Chairmen phone chairmen to see what the ball park figure would be.
That’s perfectly normal in football, even if nothing comes of that. It happens all the time.
That’s how clubs know if a target is realistic and worth pursuing.
Clubs know exactly how the land lies on a particular player long before they make a public bid.
Sometimes everyone in the dressing room knows who is going where and that a deal has been agreed in principle.
That doesn’t mean it is cut and dried though. Of course not.
There is a lot of money involved and football transfers are very complex so it still takes an age to thrash it out in fine detail, for both clubs and the player to agree on everything.
And of course sometimes they don’t always agree.
Look at Boro with Adomah. That was just about done, the price was agreed, the player had agreed terms – but the clubs were still haggling over how the payments would be staggered and over what length of time.
It is at points like that, the fine details, that a deal can stall and unravel.
Sometimes a move that looks nailed on falls through.
Sometimes another club comes in. Sometimes another player becomes available. A manager can change. An owner can change. A player can get injured or suffer a drastic dip in form. Or a big upturn so a bigger club comes in or the price goes up….
There are so many obstacles. So many variables. So many pitfalls.
A club buying a player is a bit like you or me buying a house: It is a massive investment and it might be all the money you have so you have to get it right – but there is so much that can go wrong. And you don’t rush into it.
You know roughly what area you want to be in, roughly what size and specs you want, roughly how much you can afford and you know when you want to move.
But unless you have megabucks and an unlimited budget you are not going to move into your dream house tomorrow.
We’d all like to do that but realistically, it isn’t going to happen.
You have to get the best you can from the ones that are available.
You have to get the one that ticks the most boxes at the price you can afford.
And sometimes you have to wait until the right one becomes available. Sometimes you may have to rent for a while.
And if the one you want is on the market and it’s a good one, then there will be other people interested too and then it may come down to if you meet the asking price and how fast you can complete the deal.
And if you really want it and there is a couple of other buyers keen then you might have to pay a little bit more than you thought.
Worse, you may agree everything and start to measure up for curtains and then get caught in a chain.
Maybe you can’t complete until you have sold your old house. Or until the sellers have bought a new one.
Maybe you will get gazumped or the chain will break down somewhere else out of your control and you have to start again.
That’s how it is with football transfers. It can be very frustrating.
You have to put in the long hours to find the right player at the right price and you need to be patient.
And that is us supporters as well as the clubs.
THE Legends show, with my fellow broadcasters Micky Horswill and Malcolm Macdonald, is now back on air across the North-east, from 6pm-8pm Monday to Friday. On Teesside, you can listen to us on 104.5FM via Community Voice FM, but we are on air in other regions via Star Radio, Koast Radio, Hartlepool FM and NE1 FM.
And “Bernie Does Boro” is my new no-holds-barred alternative post-match phone-in show. You can listen in on Star Radio between 5-6.30pm after the Blackpool match or give me a call on 01325 341800.
Thanks to Evening Gazette.