Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock has revealed that he has been left frustrated by Ashley Fletcher after the forward did not commit his future to the club following contract talks.
Fletcher is now set to be one of the Middlesbrough players who will leave the Riverside in the summer, alongside fellow forward Britt Assombalonga. The striker has spent a lot of time out injured this term and as a result, he has managed to score just two goals in 12 Championship appearances this term. That comes after he enjoyed a good season last term scoring 11 league goals.
Warnock was reportedly keen to keep hold of Fletcher beyond the end of the season and the club engaged in contract talks with the 25-year-old. However, the forward decided to wait until the end of the campaign before weighing up his long-term options. As a result, the striker has been marginalised from the squad along with Assombalonga.
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Speaking to Teesside Live, Warnock revealed that he thought Middlesbrough had made a very good contract offer to Fletcher and that he thought it was one he would not be able to turn down. While he also outlined his frustration with the way the forward went about the situation and deciding to not sign the deal.
He said: “It disappointed me at the time because I thought the offer that we made was fabulous really, particularly in the current climate with the pandemic.
“I thought it was an offer that he couldn’t turn down if I’m honest.
“I’m one of those people who talks to people about signing for the club and if they tell me they will and then don’t, I always think I’m better off without them.
“That’s not just Ashley. Plenty of players have let me down over the years, saying they’ll come or shaking my hand.
“As a Yorkshireman, if someone shakes my hand or tells me they’re going to sign I believe that’s true and I take it as their word.
“If they change their mind and go elsewhere, I always think good riddance me. I’ve done that a few times over the years.”
You can see that Warnock clearly valued Fletcher and saw him as someone he could rely on to perform for him upfront at the Riverside, that is why he is frustrated with the way that things have turned out with the 25-year-old’s future. It was a bold and brave decision from the forward to turn down the offer of a new deal and look to move on elsewhere this summer.
Fletcher will have to get his next club decision spot on if his move away from the club is going to vindicate. The forward has not always been prolific and has at times in his career to date suffered issues with injuries. He needs to avoid a recurrence of that at his new club and it will be interesting to see where he ends up.
Warnock will now have a massive job on his hands looking to replace him in the summer and also replace Assombalonga as well. However, the experience Boro manager should be able to find the right options to come in and maybe perform even better.