With the entire football world concentrating on the events around Europe with the UEFA tournament currently in full swing it’s not surprising that recruitment news from the Riverside is almost non-existent. The odd tentative suggestions from the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette’s ‘Boro reporters tend to be fairly indicative of the lack of progress currently being achieved by the Bauser-led transfer team and we are all pretty aware that in most cases they are little more than journalistic fabrications. Should any of the forecasts to date prove correct then I apologise in advance for any doubts I may have cast on the accuracy of their predictions, but we have yet to be convinced. So, with little happening parochially, let’s look at what has so far been an interesting – though not particularly stimulating – European tournament.
As I write, England’s already guaranteed place in the last sixteen has been more than ratified after a comparatively comfortable 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic. That Scotland were sadly eliminated after their defeat to Croatia is perhaps a better indicator of the strength of England’s chances after, let’s face it, they were fortunate to hold the Scots to a draw in their Wembley clash. That it could – and probably would – have been so much different had John Stones put away the header that most strikers would have gleefully buried shows that at this level you really must put away your chances but the poor showing to date of Harry Kane doesn’t auger well for our immediate Euros future. But that’s football and if everything went according to plan and the fancied teams always won, it certainly wouldn’t be the exciting spectacle it undoubtedly is. So far there is little doubt that France and Italy have been the two outstanding teams and coming up against them is going to be the real test.
As far as the availability of the type of striker ‘Boro are looking for is concerned it’s going to be difficult to both find and attract players who will make the difference between mid table and a real challenge. What we certainly don’t need is another season of stress. And since this will probably be Neil Warnock’s last season in charge of a league football team let’s all sincerely hope he can finish off his sometimes glittering but often controversial career in real style.
It would be wonderful if the England team could have pulled off the minor miracle by then but on the evidence so far that’s highly doubtful. You can but hope, though to pray for an England win and then for ‘Boro promotion is probably pushing hope much too far! We can only wait and see! Let’s just pray we’re all actually doing it at the Riverside. Just can’t wait to get back!