THE BLOG
14/11/2013 07:04 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Any Which Way But English

I've got a lot to look forward to as a Boro fan, and I should be delighted and excited about what lies ahead for my dad and I as we continue our journey of ups and downs on the Boro bus.But I can't help feeling just a little bit sad about the direction our great chairman has chosen to go down.

I'm a big Middlesbrough fan - you really have to love the club to spend much of your life in the Channel Islands explaining where the Middlesbrough is and why you support them.

Aitor Karanka's arrival has given my club a shot in the arm at a time when it desperately needs it. Hats off to Steve Gibson - the best club Chairman in the game for me - yet again because it feels like the excitement around the club is nearing the levels we experienced during the samba fanfare that heralded the arrival of the little man Juninho along with other stars like Emerson and Ravanelli during Bryan Robson's tenure. My childhood hero Tony Mowbray may be gone, but his successor has some serious pedigree and judging by the reaction on Twitter over the course of the last 24 hours, a large part of the footballing world knows about it.

So I've got a lot to look forward to as a Boro fan, and I should be delighted and excited about what lies ahead for my dad and I as we continue our journey of ups and downs on the Boro bus.

But I can't help feeling just a little bit sad about the direction our great chairman has chosen to go down.

The local paper, The Evening Gazette, explains a lot more of the detail behind Karanka's appointment. It appears that almost inevitably many of the existing coaching staff will depart, including the likes of Stephen Pears and Mark Proctor, two former players and long serving members of the coaching staff. It's highly likely that a large part of Karanka's support team will be brought in from Spain, despite the suggestion that he will appoint an English assistant to work with him.

There's no great surprise there - new managers come in and bring their own backroom staff in all the time. Even still, by simply appointing a Spaniard, the influx of continental football staff continues as the number of English coaches in the elite game reduces yet further. I recognise all that the continental approach has done for the game and that there is a lot to be learned from bringing in this kind of expertise, though the facts remain that this blocks the pathway for English coaches to come through, at least for now.

Of more concern to me however, is Gibson and Karanka's plan to help the club develop on the pitch and ultimately try to gain promotion back to the Premiership. It appears that by extending the scouting networks and the links with clubs around Europe, a clear pathway for bringing European talent to the Boro in the hope that it will be better and cheaper than the current crop of domestic players has been forged. I see the benefits - clubs like Inter Milan, Roma and Athletico Madrid will all have players that are perhaps not ready to play first team football at those clubs but could benefit all involved by coming to Middlesbrough on 6-12 month agreements - long enough to adapt and contribute meaningfully in the Boro first team but not on deals that will saddle Gibson with expensive long term contracts. Even a deal with Karanka's mentor Jose Mourinho might just mean some of Chelsea's endless stream of foreign talent would head up the A1 for a few months to get some much needed time in the shop window.

As a Boro fan, I'm excited about our prospects under Karanka and this new regime. Exciting football, a revolutionary approach to player recruitment and the prospect of the world's media at least knowing where Middlesbrough actually is again sounds good to me. Gibson's business acumen is not in doubt - he's clearly on a mission to build a more sustainable business model and this approach seems to tick all the boxes on that score.

But this is a club that has, in my lifetime, survived by bringing through local lads like Mowbray, Stuart Ripley, Gary Pallister, Colin Cooper, Stewart Downing, Adam Johnson, James Morrison and David Wheater to name a few who have been sold on to help pay the bills. That proud reputation has been developed at a time when very few other clubs in this country have been able to nurture and develop their own talent - one of the reasons why the nation's footballing fortunes are where they are at present.

The new direction my club is heading in is not entirely new - Watford spring to mind immediately as a club who are benefitting from bringing European players in on short term deals. However, if the trend continues, it will not be long before the Championship has similarly low levels of English player participation to the Premiership - where will that trend stop?

Steve Gibson doesn't need to worry about the future generations of England players, he's got enough on his plate on Teeside, but Greg Dyke and the FA most certainly do.

Southampton's recent progress does give us hope that European and in this case, South American influence in the technical area can help to bring the best out in young English players.

I get the feeling that Pochettino may just be an exception but I hope I'm proved wrong.