Striker James can be re­ally Posh suc­cess

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE -

IN Oc­to­ber 2009, Mid­dles­brough sacked Gareth South­gate when the club were fourth in the Cham­pi­onship and a point off the top.

Since then they’ve never even made the play-offs and have gone through three more man­agers. It’s been a tough time and I some­times won­der if they re­gret that move.

It came to mind this week when man­ager Beppe San­nino left Wat­ford with the Hor­nets sec­ond in the ta­ble.

You hear about un­rest in the dress­ing room but his meth­ods were clearly work­ing. And when you see Troy Deeney sign­ing a new con­tract, it can’t have been that un­pleas­ant.

It’s a very strange one and I hope new man­ager Os­car Gar­cia doesn’t change too much.

It would be a shame if Wat­ford went the same way as Boro.

PLAY­ERS of­ten have dra­matic tales of last­minute med­i­cals and mo­tor­way dashes on dead­line day. And speak­ing to play­ers nowa­days, you get the im­pres­sion they’d love to be in­volved in the ex­cite­ment – it’s be­come one of the big­gest events in the cal­en­dar.

Well I was in­volved, but I’m afraid it was very mun­dane. Though I moved to Preston from Liver­pool on the fi­nal day in Au­gust 2006, the whole thing had been rum­bling on for days and weeks be­fore.

There was no call out of the blue. I knew it was hap­pen­ing. And in the end, it was all very calm and civilised. I just drove down the M6, came off at the Tick­led Trout junc­tion and signed on the dot­ted line at Deep­dale.

It’s amaz­ing how the whole thing has ex­ploded over the years, with cam­eras and re­porters at ev­ery Premier League ground. But for me, the most in­ter­est­ing Foot­ball League trans­fer of this win­dow started in League Two. After a sum­mer of spec­u­la­tion, Luke James fi­nally com­pleted his move from Hartle­pool to Peter­bor­ough.

As an ex-cen­tre-for­ward my­self, I love to see young English strik­ers com­ing through and Luke is a player with in­cred­i­ble po­ten­tial.

I’ve seen him do so well at Hartle­pool. Last year he scored 13 goals and was the club’s top scorer. He’s al­ready made 100 League ap­pear­ances by the age of 19.

I also watched him on his Peter­bor­ough de­but where he got off the mark with a goal, and was no less im­pres­sive.

He’s a proper, out-and-out cen­tre for­ward in that he puts him­self in po­si­tions where he’ll get a chance. He’s al­ways hov­er­ing about, try­ing to make space in the penalty area, con­fi­dent that he’ll put the ball in the back of the net.

And he’s still such a young player so I’d ex­pect his con­ver­sion rate to get even bet­ter the older he gets. It’s a shame he had to force the move by re­fus­ing to turn up for train­ing. I don’t think any player should ever do that.

And it’s sad for Hartle­pool fans – in­clud­ing my Sky col­league Jeff Stelling who is desperately dis­ap­pointed.

But it’s hard to ar­gue it isn’t the right move as a player. Dar­ren Fer­gu­son has a great touch with cen­tre-for­wards. He’s pulled it out of the bag with so many, from Aaron McLean in the past to Dwight Gayle in re­cent years.


The only per­son he didn’t do it with was me – at Preston, he stuck me out on the right wing! Mind you, I did score the win­ner against his old club Peter­bor­ough from there so maybe he had it right.

Hope­fully James will be the next in line, and hav­ing worked with Fer­gu­son, I think he’ll en­joy him­self. I cer­tainly did.

One trans­fer that didn’t get much fan­fare was Ja­mal Black­man, a 20-year-old keeper who has joined Mid­dles­brough on loan from Chelsea. I’ve been re­ally im­pressed with him at U21 level for Chelsea and he’s a big, im­pos­ing guy for some­one so young.

Whether he’ll be No.1 for Boro boss Ai­tor Karanka I’m not sure, but I doubt Jose Mour­inho would have sent him there to sit on the bench.

Ryan Tun­ni­cliffe’s trans­fer to Black­burn also caught my eye. It didn’t work out for him at Ful­ham, where the man who signed him – Rene Meu­len­steen – was almost in­stantly sacked. But I re­ally liked him as a young mid­fielder at Manch­ester United and I think he has a great fu­ture. It’s a shrewd sign­ing by Gary Bowyer.

And I was quite sur­prised to see Cardiff let their cap­tain Mark Hud­son move to Hud­der­s­field. He’s a character in the dress­ing room, a leader on the pitch.

He has such great ex­pe­ri­ence of this di­vi­sion and won it with for the Blue­birds in 2013. He’s also a big threat from set pieces.

Off the pitch and on, it’s a great sign­ing for Hud­der­s­field.

PIC­TURE: Pin­na­cle

HUGE PO­TEN­TIAL: Luke James scores for Hartle­pool. In­set: James signs on at Peter­bor­ough

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