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Deadline day offers give Boro boss plenty heart
WHEN the dust had settled following a frantic transfer deadline day earlier this week, Tony Mowbray took satisfaction from not only Middlesbrough’s late arrivals but retaining the men he received multi-million pound offers for.
While the attention from Teesside was on whether the signings of Jacob Butterfield and Kei Kamara would be done in time, Mowbray also had to contend with late interest in two of his first team regulars.
His captain Rhys Williams and key midfielder Grant Leadbitter were the subject of strong inquiries which could easily have temped Boro into selling before Monday night’s 11pm deadline.
But Middlesbrough resisted such offers – with Wigan and Nottingham Forest understood to be willing to pay £3m and £4.5m respectively - and kept both players on board for the remainder of 2013 at least.
The mere fact there were strong calls for the pair highlighted to Mowbray that he now has his squad moving in the right direction again, having spent his first five transfer windows hoping to move players on.
“The biggest frustration before was that nobody has wanted our players really, except for Joe Bennett (who moved to Aston Villa in a deal potentially worth £4.2m),” said Mowbray. “The phone has not rang too much. It's nice to have a good team where others are interested. It's nice to be able to think and debate things.”
In the immediate aftermath of Monday’s transfer window closing, the Middlesbrough manager suggested he could have to be creative to bring in the sort of firepower he is hoping to add to his squad in the coming months.
A bid substantially, and potentially, worth in excess of £4m was lodged for Genk’s Belgium international Jelle Vossen, but finance might have had to be raised to ease such a deal through.
Williams could easily have been the man to help such a transfer happen, had Middlesbrough given Wigan manager Owen Coyle – who worked with him at Burnley – permission to go-ahead with a possible £4.5m switch.
Mowbray admitted every player has a price, even if Middlesbrough no longer have to sell having got to the stage where chairman Steve Gibson feels comfortable in reinvesting again after years of over-spending.
“Sometimes you think the offer exceeds the value you put on them and you might be able utilise that money in other areas of the pitch,” said the Boro boss.
“I can't say whether we are selling a player or not. The bottom line is it comes down to the chairman and I have got a very supportive chairman. He knows what we are trying to do, he knows we are trying to build a team.
“Yet if the price for a player in our club had been right and we could see the options of filling a position then the potential would have been there to do that.”
Mowbray has overseen more changes and cost-cutting at the Riverside Stadium than any other manager of the Steve Gibson era, but feels the club’s owner understands what the manager is trying to do.
“It is a positive that we are in a position where the chairman has looked at our stats and he can understand what would make the difference at the top end of the pitch,” said Mowbray, who is still looking for a new striker when the loan window reopens on Monday.
“The chairman has been supportive of that. There might have been a scenario along the lines that we decided to sell a player to put in to a much bigger fee for a goalscorer. We did have discussions where we might take a deal and pile that in to the top end of the pitch.
“We had those debates. But it's good to be a football manager who can have those debates. We are trying to do it within a reasonable budget. For the first time it is good to have assets where clubs are interested in our players.”
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