Boro Transfer Window Deadline Jitters
By Rob Nichols
Wednesday 30 Jan 2019 11:01:00
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With the clock now ticking down to deadline on this crucial transfer window Boro fans are sweating on Boro pulling in eleventh hour signings that might transform our promotion challenge. We missed out on bringing in the pace and width that manager Tony Pulis insisted we needed in the last window. It is surely now or never if we are to plug these critical gaps and keep up our promotion challenge.

Having already signed up the experience of John Obi Mikel, converted a loan to a permanent signing of George Saville and brought in the loan winger Rajiv van La Parra Boro have made changes to midfield and wide positions. The need for pace and goals remains now as much as it did before a ball was kicked this season. The need is even greater as we do not yet know whether Stewart Downing's contract has been sorted to allow him to start any more games for Boro. No wonder everyone is getting twitchy.

One significant departure was that of club captain Grant Leadbitter. What a career he has enjoyed at Boro, or rather we have enjoyed watching. A battling midfielder and a leader of the line he was always the cool head from the penalty spot.

Signed on a free transfer from Ipswich in 2012 Grant was surely one of the all time bargain signings. Mr Consistent, Grant was Player of the year in his first season. Who will forget season 2014/15 when he racked up 12 league goals. Not just penalties either, remember that rocket from 25 yards away at Huddersfield.

The partnership between Leadbitter and Clayton was pivotal to Aitor Karanka's Boro. It was the ticking heart of the team that bounced back from the disappointment of play off final defeat to automatic promotion. When Boro wobbled in the run-in Leadbitter (and Clayton) steadied the ranks and the captain steered the way towards success.

Leadbitter played through the pain through the final push and was sidelined for much of our faltering Premier season. His rehabilitation included early morning dips in a freezing cold reservoir in County Durham as he pushed himself to the limit to get back and help our desperate survival challenge. When he scored a cracker at Old Trafford on New Year's Eve it seemed that all that pain had been worthwhile. Sadly United came back with two goals and Boro slipped away to relegation.

We will all carry many fond memories of Grant Leadbitter's captain's contribution. He always had a top attitude. A real pro. Even out of the side this season he never rocked the boat and his experience helped propel a young side to the quarter finals of the Carabao Cup. His cup performances this season show he will still be very capable and could well inject the experience to get his first club Sunderland over the promotion line this season.

So, thank you Grant Leadbitter. And welcome John Obi Mikel. You won't bring the excitement that fans are craving but you might well bestow the calm and the wealth of experience to help us over the rocky roads ahead.

Fingers crossed there are more arrivals than departure as that window threatens to slam shut.



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