Bennett sale equals pounds, but does it equal success?

I UNDERSTAND the numbers add up for Boro but I was personally very disappointed to see Joe Bennett go.I’m a big fan of Bennett as a footballer. He has a good touch, like to get forward and can cross a ball. He’s got bags of talent and he’s another local lad who’s come through our highly rated Academy.
But we haven’t seen the best of him yet. Not by a long way. He’s still very raw. He’s still a rough diamond. There could be a lot more to come from him – but Boro fans won’t get to see it now unless they are watching him on Match of the Day.
For me, it would really stick in the throat to see him start to shine in another team’s shirt.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that a very important part of the job of the Academy is to bring in money. I know that. We all know that.
And I think for where we are and for a young lad who has played for less than 100 games then the deal was brilliant.
Money up front, instalments and a sell on fee. That’s good business – or it is if you are the a chief executive or the chairman and it helps you balance the books a bit.
But as a fan it is another good first team player out of the door and not being replaced.
And not only is he not being replaced, but the money he raised is not being spent in other areas of the team. And that for me is bad business.
Joe Bennett may not have pushed on last season the way we expected but he was still a key first team player and a decent player at that.
And Mogga has said that he not looking to replace him. That worries me.
George Friend has had a good start and looks strong at the back and gets forward a bit too – but’s he our only specialist left back. What happens if he gets injured or suspended?
With no specialist cover we’re  back to the old problem of playing people out of position: square pegs in round holes.
I know Justin Hoyte can play there but right footed people at left back are an accident waiting to happen and besides, he’s our best right back so you just shift the problem.
Julio Arca has played there but that was a long time ago and you have to worry about his lack of pace being exposed.And people tell me that Andy Halliday did well there in pre-season but – no disrespect – there’s a big difference between doing it in a few friendlies against lower league clubs and the Championship.
So for me it is not really good business if you have weakened the first team and left yourself short in a key area.And by the way, it annoys me to hear fans talking about sales of young talent being “good business” and applauding the way a deal is structured.
They are supposed to be supporters, not accountants. Its a sad day when fans are cheering the results in the bottom line instead of on the pitch.And I know the sale of Bennett is a great “success” for the Academy and we should be proud and pleased that we have got a fantastic conveyor belt of talent. Dave Parnaby is doing a fantastic job there and deserves a lot of credit.
But all these exciting young talents we are producing… I want to see them play for Boro, not Premier League clubs.
Yes, the Academy has to bring in money, that’s important.
But the priority has got to be developing players that can feed into the first team. That is surely the whole reason for even having an Academy.
We need to looking to keep the brightest and best of the Academy lads in the squad and in the team for at least three years. We want to see them polished and grow into real players at the Riverside and see the talent fully formed.
Let’s see them mature and reach their peak at the Boro and get some mileage out of them – then flog them!
THE INJURIES are starting to bite at Boro already. Is it the earliest ever?
Every season I say you need a big squad to get you through a long season because when the winter comes with the heavy pitches and frozen pitches and you’ve already got a few hard month football behind you and tired muscles, that’s when you get knocks and bruises. That’s what you expect.
This season we were looking like an episode of Casualty before the end of August! And there are some key players out too. Rhys Williams is our best player for me, a classy operator at the back who brings a bit of quality and him being out until the New Year is a big, big blow for Boro.And Nicky Bailey is out for a while too, six weeks maybe and that will hurt Boro too.
Bailey has done a fantastic job in that holding role, putting a foot in and shielding the back four. It’s not a glamorous job but someone has to do it and he does it superbly for us.
In fact with Rhys and Bailey out and Barry Robson having left, the entire spine of last year’s team – the best three players from last year – were missing at Millwall. No wonder Boro struggled there.
And it’s not just those two out. We’ve already had to scratch around to fill some positions.
Joe Bennett missed all pre-season so he hadn’t played a single minute before he left.
Kevin Thomson is struggling with his hamstring and that is a blow too – especially with Bailey being out because he could have stepped in there. And’s he got a big point to prove at the Riverside.
It’s not Kevin Thomson’s fault he’s been unlucky with injuries – he was playing on a broken leg for a long spell last season so we can’t question his courage, it’s not like he is swinging the lead – but it is starting to get frustrating for everyone concerned. Not least him.
We heard Thomson was going great in pre-season and he made a big deal about how he was going to show Boro fans exactly what he could do. He asked the fans to judge him after 10 games in a row. Well some people are starting to wonder if they will ever see him play 10 in a row.
Then there is the strike Lukas Jutkiewicz. Tony Mowbray made him his first real signing with serious money back in January and we’ve not really seen him at his best yet.
He arrived when Scott McDonald was injured and Bailey was out and the team lost its way a bit then Marvin Emnes knock a knock and struggled at the end of the season so we’ve never really seen Jutkiewicz play in the style or shape that Mogga wants him to play.
Then going into the new season he gets injured and needs a knee op so we still haven’t really seen him.And some of the new boys have never been fully fit either: Mustapha Carayol has had a hamstring niggle and Ishmael Miller hurt his ankle.
So it has been a nightmare start for Tony Mowbray on the injury front. He’s brought in 10 players and for the first time he has his own team – and then half of them are crocked!
It is a big season for Mogga. It’s his team now so he will be judged on that. I just hope he  doesn’t end up regretting not spending the Bennett money strengthening his squad.
THERE may be other things going on – I don’t know that – but looking from the outside it seems to me that Scott McDonald is being squeezed out because he is on big wages.
He is a decent striker and has scored more goals than anyone else on the books but he is sat in the stands and a lot of Boro fans will be wondering what on Earth is going on.
But it looks to me that the Boro  want him out to free up space on the wage bill and he is digging in his heels.
Well let me tell you, if I was on the wages Scott McDonald is on, I’d dig in my heels too.
Seriously. He will be earning massive, massive cash right now but that’s not his fault. The club offered him a big contract and he signed it.And to be honest if it was me, I wouldn’t walk away from that money just for the club’s convenience. No way.
It is easy for fans to point the finger. They are quick to get on the backs of players and condemn them for a lack of loyalty but hey, loyalty and contracts have to work both ways.
Clubs don’t show loyalty to players. As soon as they don’t want you, for whatever reason, they will try to dump you. There’s no loyalty then.And I know that. I had showed loyalty, I had turned down clubs and stayed. I was playing well, I was fit, I was scoring goals – but as soon as your face doesn’t fit you are out.
If the new manager doesn’t want you, if they buy a new player in your position, if you lose your place because of an injury, if you are on too much money, then the club will try to get rid and they – and the fans – expect you to accept that.
Well its not on. Clubs sign contracts with players and, unless a move is mutually agreed between all parties,  they should honour them.
For me, this is a situation that Tony Mowbray needs to sort out quickly. He’s the boss and has to do what he sees as best for the team and the club.
Right now the Scott McDonald situation is a bit of an embarrassment for Tony Mowbray but it could quickly become a real problem.
He needs to hope that the team he puts out start winning games and start scoring goals. Then the issue of Scott McDonald is a sideshow and people will forget about it.
But if Boro struggle and there is three or four results like at Millwall, that’s when people will start to point fingers and question what he is doing.
Thanks to the Evening Gazette.


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