Date:Tuesday April 25 2006
The truth is all three options are the right ones. Jeremy Peace can be accused of not backing Robson in the January transfer window, Robson has struggled with team selection and tactics and the players have just been inconsistent and poor, all three factors are going to see us relegated this season and the fans have a right tot voice their disapproval.
There is an argument for Peace, he has attempted to operate the club in a way that we stay out of debt and operate within constraints that will benefit the club in the future. He backed Robson before the season started and has given him over £9 million to build the squad that he wanted.
Robson used the cash given to him to purchase a number of players that he believed would improve our squad. The first mistake that Robson made was not looking at other options to replace the departed Kieran Richardson who decided to stay at Old Trafford, the young midfielder playing an influential part in last seasons Great Escape.
Richardson was our ‘bonus ball’ according to Robson, with the manager saying that Richard Chaplow and new signing from Blues Darren Carter could fill the void left by the Manchester United man. As we all know now this was a pile of horse crap, Chaplow has been shipped to Southampton on loan as he wasn’t ready for the first-team and needed some ‘experience’ and Carter has hardly figured and not looked the part when he has played. Neither player offered the same options as Richardson and we missed his drive and creativity in midfield, where was his real replacement Robbo?
Robson made a number of signings, including Carter (£1.5 million from Birmingham, miss), Chris Kirkland (loan signing from Liverpool, miss), Diomansy Kamara (£1.5 from Modena, miss), Steve Watson (free transfer from Everton, undecided), Nathan Ellington (£3 from Wigan, miss) and Curtis Davies (£3 million from Luton, hit).
You can now see why Peace may now be a little more ‘tight’ with the cash we have made, he hasn’t really seen a good return on the cash invested so far. When Robson was at Middlesbrough he spent an arm and a leg on a number of foreign imports, some worked and some didn’t, these things happen. Middlesbrough could afford it a little more than us, we just haven’t got the cash to throw away on poor players and one good signing doesn’t bode well for the manager being given more cash.
So out of the £9 million spent in the summer you can argue that over £6 million of it has been wasted on players that have so far failed to deliver. Curtis Davies has been a revelation and no doubt we will find it hard to keep him in the summer, he has been a consistently good performer in a poor side, considering his age he has been our best performer and I would expect him to pick up our player of the season award.
Robson wanted some cash in January to bring in Middlesbrough centre-back Ugo Ehiogu; the board vetoed the transfer as Ehiogu was demanding wages that the board would not pay, the biggest mystery was that we all thought he was out of contract in the summer and a deal was almost complete, that was until stories surfaced that he actually had 18-months remaining on his contract at Boro.
Chairman Jeremy Peace actually spoke out once the transfer collapsed saying that Albion were not willing to deal with Ehiogu’s agent as he kept ‘moving the goalposts’ in terms of the contract his client wanted. There are stories that Peace just didn’t want to offer him the deal he wanted just in case we were relegated, the defender has since gone on to play an important part in Boro’s revival, if only we had got him in alongside Davies.
Trouble is Robson apparently said the only person he wanted to bring in was Ehiogu, so the signings of Nigel Quashie (£1.5 million from Southampton), Jan Kozak (on loan from Artmedia Bratislava) and Williams Martinez (on loan from Defensor Sporting Club) cast doubts over who bring in the players to the football club. Now I believe that Quashie was Robson’s signing but the other two I doubt.
The fact that there were no strikers on the list of targets worries me as there were always rumours of Horsfield leaving and the chances of Earnshaw leaving were always quite high. Why did we not sign a striker? We have finished the season with three strikers, a Nigerian International who has never really been an out and out goal-scorer, a 37-year-old veteran who despite all his effort will never cause anyone any problems up front on his own and an expensive pansy who chipped a toe nail and doesn’t look up for the fight. Not really what you want to rely on for goals in the Premier League when you are struggling for survival. I must add to the list the young lad Stuart Nicholson who has shown us a glimpse of the future but appearing for a struggling defensive side in a relegation battle in the top division is not going to help his career and he has looked short of supply.
We have tried Kamara up front with Campbell in recent weeks and he can’t score to save his life, missing sitter after sitter has not helped him win over the Albion crowd and he also didn’t look up for the fight.
So who does the blame lie with for not getting a striker in, why has no-one spoke out concerning the fact we are striker less? Robson pinned all his hopes on his signing from Wigan and the Duke has not delivered.
As for the players they have been consistently poor and short of fight this season. Compare this to last season and it’s hard to see what’s happened, the fight was in the players last season, they would work for each other and battle till the end, this season they look deflated and short of confidence, they are trudging around the pitch and look a yard off the pace compared to last season, the fight has gone out of them and the manager.
Things have to change in the summer, we’re going down and the whole club needs an overhaul, starting with the manager and half of the squad. I hope and pray that next season we will come back from this as it has been a season to forget.
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