WITH Middlesbrough’s Championship safety now all but secured after a torrid 2013 so far, Tony Mowbray’s thoughts have turned to next term and unearthing some cut-price gems.
Mowbray was handed an unenviable cost-cutting remit on arriving back on Teesside in October, 2010, with Boro paying the price for some expensive mistakes during the Gareth Southgate and Gordon Strachan regimes.
With financial fair play regulations set to be implemented in the second tier, it promises to be even more difficult for the Boro manager to make his side competitive at the top end of the table and also keep a tight fiscal ship and Mowbray says that shrewd scouting is the key to the club’s hopes of success.
Despite a number of big-earners leaving since he arrived at the club and the likes of Stephen McManus and Nicky Bailey, both signed by Strachan, also expected to move on as part of a big summer overhaul, there remains little room for manoeuvre on the playing budget.
In that respect, the futures of the likes of Marvin Emnes and Rhys Williams, who could command decent fees in the open market, and big-earning Scott McDonald are likely to come under the microscope with Mowbray challenged again to bring in some bargain recruits akin to the 2012 close-season captures of George Friend and Muzzy Carayol, who have more than proved their worth.
Mowbray, whose side are seeking their first away win since early December at Bolton, said: “We’ve talked about how we are going to be a better football team with finances coming down and we think it is with good scouting.
“The building process will go on this summer because there will be some salary opened up to us. Sometimes you have to sell somebody to bring some money in. You have to do business.
“The challenge is to try and find more talented young players who are maybe bubbling underneath in the lower leagues or abroad in the second division of French, Belgian or Dutch football.
“(At West Brom) Graham Dorrans came from Livingston and was Championship player of the year and Youssof Mulumbu came from PSG’s second team and is now a fixture in the Premier League.”