Whilst Boro have had a decent season in the Championship, there’s no doubt they would have preferred to be in the top six at this point.
With the games they have coming up, their fate is very much in their own hands, but even so it is going down to the wire.
By changing manager early in the season, they showed their intention but even with Tony Pulis at the helm, things haven’t gone their way entirely.
In the summer, they resisted moves for £25m-rated Ben Gibson, the impressive centre half courted by a number of teams, including Everton. The thinking will have been he was needed for the upcoming promotion battle and being the chairman’s nephew, doubtless he wanted to be a part of that.
After an impressive season in the second tier, the youngster will have a big decision to make if the vultures come circling this summer. Everton could be primed to make a move, possibly wanting to replace an aging Phil Jagielka with the England prospect.
FLW looks at the season Gibson has had in our latest spotlight piece and assess whether a move to Goodison would be of benefit to Sam Allardyce.
The first thing to note before we wade into numbers, is the similarities between Pulis and Allardyce in terms of approach. Gibson wouldn’t be moving to a side with a completely different philosophy, something that is important to bear in mind when considering a move. First team chances would likely be plentiful at Goodison, whereas a move to somewhere such as Chelsea, another former suitor, would bring more limited first team exposure. With his family ties, Gibson is surely only likely to move to further his career and that only happens with first team games.
He’s made 41 league appearances for Boro this season, each one as good as the last. He’s bagged a goal, a consolation in the fourth game of the season away at Forest, as well as three assists. He is a traditional centre back though, one who rarely has any business being up the other end of the field other than to offer aerial assistance at set pieces. If he had more goals and assists, you could be forgiven for thinking he’s being played in the incorrect position.
Where he does excel is in the basic defensive work. His average of six clearances per game is impressive, it shows him to be a committed and always on hand to do some of the dirty work. doing the maths, that is somewhere around 250 clearances this season, an impressive stat indeed.
He’s also very good on the ball, 46 passes per game is up there with some midfielders and an 80% success rate is certainly higher than many so-called ball players.
Gibson is 25-years old now and despite the England call up, if he wants to go one further he has to be in the top flight. Everton would seem a perfect fit, especially if he could form a partnership with Michael Keane. That could work well for England, having two centre halves in international contention playing club football together, their understanding would increase and that would benefit everyone.
Gibson to Everton? If we were Sam Allardyce we’d already have his agent on speed dial.