Given Boro’s belt tightening and modest payroll in recent years, the loan market has an ever increasing value to us. Over the next few months (and depending on how active we are) I will be chatting to fans of the parent clubs we are currently dealing with.
THE ENIGMA OF AMEOBI
In what looks like a speculative roll of the dice from Mogga we saw @Sammy_Ameobi make the short trip to Teesside this week. So who better to give us the low down on Shola’s younger brother than our friends over @LeazesTerrace (well worth a follow if you’re not already doing so).
Ameobi: the name which sparks no more polarised debate around Newcastle fans. The best part of 15 years later, mangers and fans alike struggle to understand what can see a player produce such erratic form. Of course, I’m talking about the senior Ameobi – although the signs early on are this is certainly carried on in the blood.
Sammy made his senior debut against Chelsea at the end of the 2010/11 season and has only been used in flashes since, showing some encouraging early promise; in particular an impressive close control when dribbling at speed. But his rawness shone through, lacking not just the physical strength for the Premier League but technique and positional discipline.
His sporadic use early in the 2011/12 season did show some general improvements (and his first competitive goal vs Scunthorpe in the League Cup) but the eventual return of Hatem Ben Arfa, and the purchase of Papiss Cisse understandably limiting his time on the pitch.
This season his use has been mostly in the Europa League – but frankly he’s been afforded more pitch time than his performances have warranted with Pardew himself being critical of the performance of all the development squad after the defeats to Bordeaux and Brighton. It’s no surprise that with the recent incomings that he’s been made available for loan – along with a selection of others who are notably not ready to be called up on at Premier League level .
Positionally, Sammy has been used as both a left and right winger, and as a second striker – although the latter doesn’t suit him at all. Personally, he looks slightly more comfortable on the left wing – but any role which allows him space to run on the ball will see the best in him.
At the age of 20, Sammy is certainl still learning, but has stagnated of late and the move could well be perfect for him at this time – particularly the with a competitive level of opposition and Tony Mobray’s attractive footballing style.
Short term I can see him enjoying his time on loan and making a modest contribution to Middlesbrough, but it’ll probably not be his last secondment. I do hope he makes it in the game – he’s an infectious personality – a genuine nice lad, but as we all know, football isn’t full of nice guys…
THE CURIOUS CASE OF ISHMAEL MILLER
Somewhere within Ishmael Miller’s hulking 6’3″ lurks a good footballer, a striker with genuine speed, acceleration, strength and a fine left-foot. So why now does he find himself at a serious crossroads in his career, one that has yielded an England under-21 and a solid return of goals in the second tier but not quite what it might have when he burst onto the scene, swift, cocksure and finding the target with alarming regularity for Manchester City’s second string.
His move to be reunited with Tony Mowbray, who took him from Manchester City to West Bromwich Albion in 2007 comes via a spell on the sidelines following a serious knee injury, costing him some 14 months of his playing career and time spent in the East Midlands in the colours of Nottingham Forest, one of a number of big money signings by Steve McClaren that have failed to pan out how they should have done in Garibaldi Red.
Miller’s time at Forest was sadly marred by persistent injury, inconsistent and the views some members of the Reds faithful that he lacks the work rate expected of a frontman, particularly those raised on the endeavour of the tireless Gary Birtles in the early 1980′s. Incidentally Miller tweeted that he wasn’t too bothered what the fans thought, in slightly more colourful terms, an incident that cost him a fine and a ticking off from then boss Steve Cotterill who had replaced McClaren following the ex-Boro manager’s nondescript start on Trentside.
Miller had started well under McClaren, coming off the bench to good effect in a victory over Doncaster before playing an important role in a comeback from two goals down at home to Leicester as the Reds earned a fortunate home point against their near neighbours. His first goal came in the Carling Cup tie at Wycombe, during which he terrorised the home defence with a fine display of raw power and bustling pace. He won a first minute penalty in the game against hated rivals Derby County which saw opposing goalkeeper Frank Fielding red carded, only for the Trickies to let a one goal lead slip to the ten men as things turned sour.
He added goals away at Watford, a rare win, Burnley, a catatrosphic 5-1 drubbing and in the home game with Birmingham, the staggering capitulation that finally cost McClaren his job, arguably the game turning for the worst for Forest when Miller limped out of action with a hamstring problem. Three goals in the final ten-minutes spelt the end of Steve’s brief City Ground tenure.
Initially first-choice under Cotterill, persistent injuries saw his progress checked. He has made just three starts since the end of November, his last coming against Boro on Valentine’s Day when he was hauled off at half-time. He hasn’t appeared at all since March, although he did contribute a fine goal in a pre-season friendly at Burton Albion, however the arrival of Simon Cox was always to signal the exit for the £1.2 million pound man.
A move to Teesside could be just the tonic, in Mowbray he has a manager who has put his faith in him before now and a fully-fit, firing Miller would be a handful for any Championship defence. Don’t bet against a Riverside renaissance for the Manchester-born nearly man.
BORO SIGN THE BRITISH INIESTA
Watching Josh, it seems as if he never gives the ball away. He always makes himself available and (if you hadn’t already guessed) I’ve been mesmerised by his wand of a left foot.
He’s got the gift of making things look easy, he was a key player in Chelsea’s FA Youth Cup winning team in 2010 and won the Young Player of the Year award in 2011.
He’s already a cult hero at the Bridge, despite only making a handful of appearances. It’s not surprising really, he’s one of the first youngsters threatening to establish himself in the first team since John Terry. We’re desperate to see him succeed.
He’s got plenty to prove. He spent the second half of last season away at Swansea, where his progress was stunted by the emergence of Gylfi Sigurdsson. He really needs a break – and we’re delighted that Boro have given an opportunity.
Many Chelsea fans will be watching plenty of Boro games in the coming months. Enjoy him for the first half of the season but don’t grow too attached. We’ll want him back!”
Oh, by the way, Josh is on Twitter: @JMcEachran20