The Football League Paper - - NEIL MELLOR -

PA­TRICK Bamford, Jor­don Ibe, Dar­ren Bent – have loan play­ers ever had such an im­pact at the top end of the Cham­pi­onship?

Take away the con­tri­bu­tions of those three play­ers and I think it’s fair to say nei­ther Mid­dles­brough or Derby would oc­cupy an au­to­matic pro­mo­tion spot.

It’s a great il­lus­tra­tion of the im­por­tance of good con­tacts at this level.Yes, big clubs like Derby and Boro will al­ways at­tract big names. It’s also true that, fi­nan­cially, they can out­strip many of their ri­vals.

But, for me, the men in the dugout play a cru­cial role. Steve McClaren is an ex-Eng­land manager and for­mer as­sis­tant to Alex Fer­gu­son with a net­work of friends and as­so­ciates stretch­ing across Europe.

Ai­tor Karanka is good mates with Jose Mour­inho and coached the likes of Ron­aldo and Karim Ben­zema at Real Madrid.

Both of them can pick up the phone to any manager in the world and a) ask for play­ers and b) be trusted to de­velop them.

That’s some­thing all ap­point­ment-mak­ing chair­men should con­sider.

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