Hello and welcome to part 4 of The Rise Of The Boro. The dust has barely settled from celebrating last season’s title winning promotion to the Premier League and we are working towards building a squad I think can give us stability in the top tier. We will stand by the system that I implemented during my first season at the club. The Smoggers 4-3-3 using 2 wide wingers served us well last season by producing some nice build up play from a solid framework. I am under no illusion that the forthcoming season will throw up a lot more problems for us. What I like about the Smoggers 4-3-3 is that it has a feeling of realism about the gameplay that it produces.
For example one Twitter user suggested I download a certain tactic and go and smash the Premier League with a 3 striker set up. Personally I can’t think of anything worse. I want the save to be the closest that it could possibly be to real life in as many ways as possible including tactics, transfers, staff appointments ect ect. So with this in mind it is time to tell you about our summer recruitment and departures.
I have looked at a lot of players over the last few months that are playing in systems similar to what we are using at Boro and narrowed my shortlist down and gone out and made the following signings.
The first player that joined us was a familiar face in Lewis Baker from Chelsea for a fee of £3.8m, Baker spent last season on loan at the Riverside making 20 first team appearances for us playing in the Mezzala role, Baker is a player who can dictate the tempo of the game and is a very good set piece specialist.
Another familiar face from last season Muhamed Bešić was the next player who I signed from Everton for a fee of £7.5m. The 25 year old Bosnian midfielder was on loan with us last season and played a big part in our Championship winning season. Beśić played in a Ball Winning Midfielder role to great effect returning 5 League goals. I am very pleased to be able to have got the signature of Beśić who I think will be a quality signing.
The next player to join us is 26 year old Forward Danny Ings from Liverpool for £8.75m. The Forwards career seems to have come to a crossroad after only making 18 league appearances for Liverpool due to a combination of both injuries and being in the shadow of a few preferred team mates. I decided to give the frontman a chance to resurret his career here on Teessde. Of all the transfers this is the one that I have taken a bit of a gamble on so fingers crossed on this one.
My next signing is 24 year old Winger Helder Costa from Wolverhampton Wanderers for a fee of £13m plus Rudy Gestede going in the opposite direction. Costa will provide a welcome alternative to Adama Traoré who I backed up last season with on loan Olexandr Zinchenko. I feel Costa who can also operate on the left flank fits nicely in to our system giving us quality attacking options. Costa was made available by Wolves after the departure of Nuno Espírito Santo who after getting Wolves promoted via the playoffs left to become National team manager of Portugal.
With our attacking options strengthened I wanted to add depth to our backline and was pleased to see Czech Centre Back Tomáš Kalas transfer listed for £3.5m. The 25 year old joined Chelsea in 2010 and has been loaned out every since to clubs including ourselves, Vitesse, Koln and Fulham whom he helped gain promotion along with us last season before returning to Chelsea. I see Kalas providing stiff competition to Ayala and Gibson as the season pans out. Kalas will also provide professional tutoring to our development squad.
Another transfer listed player was next to sign on the dotted line, this time it was 26 year old Burnley keeper Nick Pope for £1.2m. Pope will come in to the club to go head to head with Darren Randolph to be the number 1 keeper at the club.
With the departure of full back Fabio to Monterrey, I enterterd the transfer market with a couple of targets in mind that could provide a challenge to both our first choice full backs George Friend and Ryan Shotton. The player I chose to sign for the left back slot was 26 year old Swiss Loris Benito from Young Boys for £2m. Benito will provide us with a solid option at left full back. Moving over to the right full back slot I went after Manchester City’s youngster Pablo Maffeo and managed to bring the young Spaniard to the club on a season long loan deal, the 21 year old spent last season on loan at Girona and looks to have a bright future in the game.
Last but not least I went out and secured a season long loan deal for Juventus wonderkid Moise Kean who can play up front centrally or out on the left wing. Kean spent last season on loan at Hellas Verona and will provide us with options in the final third. Like Maffeo, I would very much like to make these loan deals permanent but the parent clubs would not enter in to any negotiations so I will use this loan period to get to know them and hopefully build up a relationship that may make the option of a permanent move to Teeside possible over the next few season’s.
Players Exiting The Club
Rudy Gestede has joined Wolves as part of the deal to bring Helder Costa to the club, unfortunately the Target Man was not part of my plans going forward and I wish him all the best at his new club. Full Back Fabio left on a free transfer after refusing to enter in to contract talks in January, the Brazilian joins Monterrey. Antonio Barragan has joined Swansea City in a deal that could rise to £8.75m. Midfielder Julien de Sart has joined Barnsley in a deal that could rise to £2.9m whilst Martin Braithwaite has joined Deportivo Landed Coruna on a free transfer. The above players freed up somewhere in the region of £100,000 per week in wages.
Players Promoted To The First Team Squad
I have promoted both Callum Cooke and Harry Chapman to the 1st team squad from our development squad. Both Cooke and Chapman are products of our youth academy. I am interested to see how both of these players adapt to life in the first team.
The Season Ahead 2018-2019
We will continue to use my Smoggers tactical system to see how It performs in the Premier League. I will give until we have played around 20 games before making any tactical tweaks. This will give me plenty of games to watch and analyse without making any knee jerk decisions. I am looking for a mid table finish this coming season, I feel if we can get a mid table finish it will give us a chance to attract the type of players to continue the clubs rise and gain stability in the top tier. The media are predicting us to finish 17th so it would be nice to achieve a mid table position.
When watching our gameplay our system reminds me very much like Slavisa Jokanovic’s Fulham side. It is very pleasing on the eye to me because that is how I like to see football played. I like the emphasis to be on producing good wing play were our wide men carve out chance for both themselves or our forwards supported by our midfield arriving in the area. I think we have good options down the wings with Adama Traoré, Helder Costa, Harry Chapman, Stewart Downing, Moise Kean and Patrick Bamford capable of playing out wide.
Thank you for taking the time to have a look at our pre season additions, my next blog post will be covering our first season back in the big time. Will our tactical system be able to produce in the Premier Legue?