19th January 2017
I’VE got mixed feelings about the Patrick Bamford back to Boro transfer.
On the one hand, to me it’s like someone leaving their missus because they think they can find something or someone better, and then returning to the household a couple of years later when they realise that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Bamford has been to other clubs of near or equal stature to Boro – Norwich, Crystal Palace and Burnley – and he has been out in the wilderness and still hasn’t scored a Premier League goal.
I thought Boro have a worldwide scouting network, but over the years we’ve had a habit of bringing players back to Teesside.
Juninho had three spells here. Pally, Colin Cooper and Mark Proctor were here twice and that’s naming just a few.
Bamford is going to need a to get his rhythm back because he’s hardly played any first-team football of late.
But he does have a lot of attributes. I’ve met him a couple of times and he’s a lovely lad, clued-up and intelligent.
He played a lot of games in the Championship up front and out on the right and did very well for Boro and scored goals, although his record in it isn’t as good as Jordan Rhodes’ in the Championship.
But we are in a different league altogether now.
We’ve had an issue out wide, where even natural wingers like Adomah, Carayol, Wildschut, Downing and Fischer don’t seem to have been entirely trusted to do the job.
That’s an area that still needs addressing as far as I’m concerned, and I would still like to see a creative midfielder and winger come in if I was being greedy.
Managers do have a habit of going for players who they know and feel like they can trust, so I’m not surprised to see Bamford back at the Riverside.
The transfer still has an element of gambling about it, because he hasn’t scored in the top flight.
Do I think he has got the ability to? Absolutely.
I definitely think that there is a case of if you can score goals, you can score them anywhere – I’ve done it myself.
But I don’t see Bamford playing a lone centre forward’s role back at the Boro.
The centre halves are a different proposition entirely in the Premier League, and I don’t think he’s strong enough for the lone front man position.
And I don’t see the manager changing a system that has been set in stone for three years and going with two up front, I just don’t.
I think Bamford would be most suited to playing in the hole behind Negredo.
I think he has got the technique and eye for a pass to do that.
Wherever Bamford plays, I hope his return to the club is a success and he breathes new life into his career.
If there is movement in January, it’s an indicator that a manager isn’t entirely happy with his squad.
So full marks to Boro and Karanka for being pro-active and trying to improve the squad in the areas where they think it’s needed.
January is exciting for fans with so many links and rumours doing the rounds, but Gaston Ramirez is one player I want to see stay.
He’s one of our best technicians and someone I would pay to see play.
The Chelsea link to Adama Traore is an eye-catching one.
He’s our most exciting player with his lightning pace, but he’s not the most intelligent from a football IQ point of view yet.
He still needs to get his head up and polish his end product.
Speaking of polishing, I’m sick of hearing the apple-polishing brigade bang on about how good draws are for us.
The rule change from two points to three that was adopted in the English football league in 1981 was designed as an extra incentive for teams to go for victories, ones that can have a big impact on their season.
There’s this mentality that every point is a good point.
Of course it’s better than none, but who’s to say that the potential other two points we haven’t nailed down on numerous occasions in games won’t be just as crucial come the end of the season?
One Boro shot on target against Watford and one against Leicester just isn’t good enough, and I want to see Boro raids forward against West Ham on Saturday have some sort of decisive end to them.
Whether that’s a corner, a shot or whatever.
Boro will have to be on their guard at the back, because Andy Carroll showed what a handful he can be when he is fully fit with that spectacular volleyed goal against Crystal Palace.
I’m still keeping busy with the Reds Academy which a few of us ex-Boro players like Jim Platt and Gary Pallister run for youngsters aged five to 16 at Middlesbrough Sports Village, and in Billingham and Ingleby Barwick.
For further details, phone 07403 478998.