THE fact that Middlesbrough are top of the early Championship table appears to be as far away from Tony Pulis’s thoughts as is possibly imaginable.
After a thoroughly underwhelming deadline-day when Boro chased up to eight targets, but never managed to get one signing over the line for a variety of reasons, the Riverside chief struggled to hide his frustration in his pre-match press briefing.
An insurance policy, by way of the loan market being open for EFL clubs after the market for permanent moves closed on Thursday, remains an option.
Stressing its importance, Pulis reaffirmed his stark message that Boro, as it stands, do not have a squad capable of winning promotion this term, with decisive action required between now and August 31 – even above positive early results on the pitch.
Pulis, who saw a deal to bring in former loan midfielder Mo Besic flounder due to the issue of agent’s fees – although the deal is likely to be resurrected – said: “We wanted to generate enough income and money to put the club on a sounder base, which again I think we have achieved with sales of players who have gone, (Ben) Gibson, (Patrick) Bamford and Adama (Traore).
“What we wanted and needed to do was also improve in respect of bringing players in, which we have not managed to do.
“That is a disappointment. It is a disappointment for everyone at the football club.”
Pulis comes face to face with the man he replaced this afternoon in Garry Monk, with the ramifications of his ill-fated short-lived spell on Teesside still being felt by the club, who have been far more watchful in the transfer market after Monk’s £40m splurge failed to manufacture a side capable of winning automatic promotion last term.
Monk is likely to receive a frosty welcome from supporters back at his old club, who sacked him on December 23 last season, but the former Leeds United chief insists he has moved on from a tough time in managerial career.
He said: “There is no negative feeling from my side, no resentment at all. I think you have to understand the owners have the right to make whatever decisions they make.”