CHANGE takes time. But with time can also come trust, togetherness and progress.

That undoubtedly appears to be the case at Middlesbrough this summer, where unity and alignment behind the scenes has resulted in a hugely encouraging start to the summer transfer window and real confidence ahead of the coming Championship season.

It's almost three years since Kieran Scott arrived at Middlesbrough but, without going over old ground, the first 12 months or so was difficult for the head of football, with managers in place who, it's fair to say, had a different view on recruitment.

Things changed when Michael Carrick arrived and, as Scott and the head coach's relationship has strengthened and developed over the course of the last couple of years, so too has the faith in the model and the feeling that Boro are on to something good.

"It's definitely changed over the last 12 months," admits Scott.

"My relationship with Michael has got a lot stronger. I didn't know him before we came so we had to learn how each other works. We've had time to do that. That is continuing to develop. And that allows me to get deeper in the job."

With depth comes success. Boro's recruitment team had the unenviable task of replacing the Championship's star man and a string of influential Premier League loanees last summer. But from the most challenging of windows emerged a player who earned a Premier League move and made Boro a huge profit within a matter of months, a teenage defender who appears destined for the top and a striker who finished last season as one of the most feared in the division.

When it comes to signings, Scott would say one of his best was the arrival of Chris Jones, who joined as head of scouting at the back end of 2022 and was promoted to become head of recruitment earlier this year.

Jones - instrumental in the recent capture of USA international Aidan Morris - has two senior scouts working for him, Ian Breckin and Tom Reeves. Both arrived at the start of pre-season last year.

Both Jones and Scott knew Reeves well, with the trio having worked together at Norwich, There was, therefore, already an understanding of the model and Reeves, first team scout at Norwich for five years, had previously impressed Scott and Jones with his work-rate and ability when it came to identifying potential targets.

Breckin, on the other hand, arrived at Boro after spells at AS Monaco and RB Leipzig and after a recommendation from former Norwich City striker - and now West Ham scout - Grant Holt. Breckin had established a name for himself when it came to finding untapped talent.

Over the course of the last couple of years, Boro's recruitment team has built up a target list which is tweaked on a weekly basis, depending on availability, contract and transfer status and other factors. Some are immediate targets, others are players who will be monitored ahead of a potential pursuit down the line. 

There's also a need to be flexible with targets and timing. Boro moved on Finn Azaz - a player they'd long watched closely - when it became apparent there was growing interest from across the Championship in January. Had they not acted then, they'd have likely missed out. Luke Ayling, on the other hand, hadn't been a long-term target but the need for a right-back and someone who could make an instant impact was clear. Ayling was outstanding and a permanent deal was identified as a summer priority.

The signing of Morris from Columbus Crew was 14 months in the making and, again, this summer was deemed the ideal time to push through the deal, with a midfielder another transfer priority at the start of the window.


With profit and sustainability regulations biting hard, the days of Championship promotion hopefuls throwing mega money around in the transfer window are, on the whole, a thing of the past. Instead, clubs need to be smart and shrewd.

"I have to see football clubs as a business because unless you're Chelsea it has to be run like a business," explains Scott.

"It's hard because I want to win and the balance is difficult, but if we don't have players on the pitch who are a certain age who could be worth a certain amount of money, I don't see how we'll progress going forward.

"I've always felt that way. If you have a coach who has his own agenda, you're not going to get anywhere as a football club. Now you can see everyone sees this is the way forward."

And everyone at Boro - in the coaching and the recruitment team - is pulling in the same direction.  In football, poor results can cause strained relationships, but Boro's testing spells last season brought everyone even closer, says Scott.

"I think you learn more when things don't go right," he said, looking back on the difficult start to last season, where Boro failed to win any of their first seven games.

"I think we did learn a lot. I learnt we all stuck together. When it wasn't going right at the start of the season, there were demands to be better, but no agendas.

"I've been at clubs where that has happened. We stuck to what we believe in. I kept learning we're all together and we all want to achieve the same thing and we're fighting for the same thing."

That bodes well for the season ahead.