WE decided to ask Anfield Wrap contributors what they would do this summer with clubs that weren’t their own; how they would resurrect Aston Villa? How can Arsenal make the next step? Who would you hire and who would you fire?
Each got to advise, be Director Of Football or even take the reins at the club in question. And of course, we asked Dave Downie to do Liverpool.
You can read the others here:
- You Are The Boss #1 – Crystal Palace
- You Are The Boss #2 – Spurs
- You Are The Boss #3 – Swansea
- You Are The Boss #4 – Everton
- You Are The Boss #5 – Liverpool
- You Are The Boss #6 – Burnley
- You Are The Boss #7 – Newcastle
- You Are The Boss #8 – Aston Villa
- You Are The Boss #9 – Norwich City
- You Are The Boss #10 – West Brom
- You Are The Boss #11 – Chelsea
- You Are The Boss #12 – Leicester
- You Are The Boss # 13 – Manchester United
- You Are The Boss #14 – Bournemouth
- You Are The Boss #15 – Southampton
- You Are The Boss #16 – West Ham
- You Are The Boss #17 – Hull City
Middlesbrough – Steve Graves
YOU may have heard of the parmo – Middlesbrough’s most celebrated culinary offering.
It’s deep-fried chicken in breadcrumbs with the white sauce of a lasagne. Apparently you can add other stuff to create variations (stick pepperoni, chilli and garlic on and it’s a parmo hot shot). You eat it with chips, obviously.
There are two types of people in the world, and indeed two types of people reading this.
There are those who think all that sounds terrible, sickened at the thought of 150 grams of fat sludging its way through their arteries.
Then there are those who will have opened another tab, Googled parmos and got lost in a wonderful, calorie-filled corner of the internet. They’re not coming back to read about Albert Adomah’s first-team prospects. These are my people. Godspeed.
So I’m left with readers who not only don’t fancy a parmo, but actually care about Middlesbrough FC’s chances of staying up, or doing a Leicester City, or going down in ignominy. Let’s all make the best of it.
On the face of things, Boro’s 2015/16 season was a triumph. Promoted in second place playing smart, forward-looking but defensively sound football. They came through a mid-season wobble and finished up with 89 points.
Their squad is full of people you’ve heard of, with plenty of top-flight experience and a blend of homegrown talent with some pretty big signings funded by surpremo Steve Gibson – widely regarded as among the best owners in the game.
But then there was March, and the bizarre apparent falling-out, then sort-of falling back in, between manager Aitor Karanka and his squad. The former Real Madrid assistant had publicly questioned the desire of some of the players and it looked like he was heading out of the club. But he stayed, Boro got the results they needed and everything looks pretty rosy. In a not-quite-as-rosy-as-you’d-like sort of way.
FULL TIME! WE HAVE DONE IT! MIDDLESBROUGH FOOTBALL CLUB IS BACK IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE! pic.twitter.com/OgOA0iIKFq
— Middlesbrough FC (@Boro) May 7, 2016
About that squad, then. The first priority for any promoted club — any football club — should be scoring goals. It’s literally the object of the game. Norwich came up, got loads of praise for playing some decent football early on, but nobody could kick it in the goal for them consistently enough so they went down.
Up front Boro have Cristhian Stuani, a Uruguayan international who scores about one in five, the more prolific Jordan Rhodes and David Nugent — who at least guarantees a couple of goals against Liverpool over the course of the season.
Instinctively it feels like another striker would be nice, but a £5million outlay on Viktor Fischer, who at Ajax was about as free-scoring as left wingers get, would suggest Boro are looking to add goals from other areas.
With that in mind, re-signing Gaston Ramirez, released by Southampton after doing very well indeed on loan at the Riverside, should be a priority. He should increase the club’s goal threat enough to make the three strikers currently on the books just about sufficient.
Links earlier in the summer to a move for former Boro midfielder James Morrison would suggest a need for an all-purpose midfielder with Premier League experience.
Let’s be ambitious and look at the players inevitably displaced by Arsenal’s extensive renovation work in this area of the pitch.
Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini have both been released, with the latter probably the better bet fitness-wise. Francis Coquelin’s position must also be under threat but he’d cost actual money, so let’s have Flamini.
More work may still be required on the centre-midfield area. Captain Grant Leadbitter’s most recent top-flight experience came under a Labour government and an upgrade, while a tough call to make, could be the difference between a survival fight and something more exciting.
An intriguing option could be a central role for Stewart Downing, an intelligent and adaptable footballer, allowing Fischer a regular start on the left.
Speaking of the left, vice-captain George Friend at left-back is a serial player of the year award winner. He’s loved by the fans but could be tested by the step up in class. But if we’re going sentimental, we’re doing it at full-back. Friend stays and takes on the captaincy on a regular basis.
At centre-back Ben Gibson is reportedly being considered as a left-footed option for the future by England, while former Red Daniel Ayala has established himself as a solid defender at upper Championship level and I couldn’t be happier for him.
We’re definitely light in this area, though, and I’m looking to the released list for an experienced defender capable of galvanising a dressing room and being Kolo Toure. If there is any lingering unrest in the camp, I’m pretty certain Kolo will sort it all out.
I don’t care about goalkeepers but the one we’ve got is a Greek international and pretty handsome, so let’s go with him.
Other than all that, I think we’re good to go. I’m not aiming for a great season but this squad should do enough to stay up, providing a platform for some wild transfer activity the following summer.
I would be mad keen on spending £20million on a lad from the Ukrainian league, but that will have to wait.