Onside: Graham and Tomlin will boost Boro more than January duds Dyer and Ameobi


A COLLECTIVE sigh of relief from gaffers and chairmen, a manager’s phone tariff dwindling back down to its usual monthly rate, a player able to look in one direction after a month of having his head turned.

It’s not dissimilar to Christmas for a kid. The build up lasts for an eternity and then it’s over before we know it.

But behind the pantomime of full-grown adults eagerly shoving aforementioned kids out of the way to get on camera outside grounds and a certain presenter living in a world believing that January 31 revolves around his three-hour appearance on the box is a season defining period for managers.

Karanka may well have found life adapting to the English game easier than he had thought. The transfer window however is a whole new ball game.

We all know the drill by now and René Meulensteen - despite his grim welcome into life as a football manager - may well have hit the nail on the head when he called for the window to be a week long.

That would at least limit the time in which players can be unsettled by timid bids which inevitably rise in the final hours.

For clubs continue to play hardball knowing those managers in desperate need of reinforcements will give in to the demands asked of them.

There was a slight element of panic in Boro’s business in those closing hours.

Danny Graham and Lee Tomlin are solid additions at this level – that can’t be denied.

But to find ourselves with six loan players on the books – all of whom may well be in Aitor’s ideal 11 – yet only able to play five of them shows the clamour to add to the numbers as the clock approaches 11pm.

Our army of part-time playoff push punters will of course be back down to five when Shay’s love affair comes to an end at the end of this month.

A blow yes. Clean sheets have become part of our fabric during the mini-revival down to Given and a settled defensive line who finally appear to be cutting out the costly errors from earlier this season.

However, in Jason Steele we don’t just have an able deputy but a top-class young stopper who has always done all that was asked of him and more.

It would have been nice to secure Shay until the end of the campaign. Steele himself would have learned a great deal from him.

But equally Karanka could also have ran the risk of leaving the highly-rated young English keeper disillusioned while in reality Boro, even diving into the depths of the current account’s overdraft, couldn’t afford to snap Given up on a permanent deal.

I would never deliberately mean to upset the adorning members of the Shay Given fan club who passionately belt out his name followed by ‘sign him on’ even after the most routine of saves but a striker was always the priority – it had to be.

And we could have done a lot worse than tempt Danny Graham back to the haunt where it all started out for him – one year after we initially tried to get the targetman back on Teesside.

The bid last year on the morning of deadline day was met by a collective roar of delight hailing Lord Gibson for once again showing willing to dip into his pocket when his beloved Boro were in need.

It wasn’t to be. And 2013 wasn’t to be for Danny Graham.

Hence a large number of those clamouring for his signature last year writing him off before he’s kicked a ball this time out.

Granted, his record over the last year has been poor. That’s what a hit in confidence does for a striker.

But prior to that he had hit the net 14 times for Swansea in his first season among the elite following a campaign as top marksman in the Championship, when he notched 27 in all competitions.

At this level, and in Karanka’s favoured system, Graham may well, we hope, find his feet again.

Karanka was one of many gaffers who uttered the seemingly obvious as 2014 opened its doors, claiming he only wanted to sign players who would improve the squad. He’ll feel he’s done that.

Chalobah adds a touch of class, Omeruo looks impressive too - although prior to last week they were probably beginning to wonder when they would make their Boro bow.

And Tomlin will provide an alternative in the number 10 role.

If we learnt anything from January it’s how ruthless Aitor Karanka can be. He wanted to cut the squad numbers and he’s done exactly that.

It could have been better.

There’s no doubt he would have liked to bring some more game-changing bodies in. And he made it clear he would have loved to extend the Given deal.

But it could have been a whole lot worse. Step forward Kieron Dyer and Sammy Ameobi 12 months ago.

And as one anxious Boro fan put it on Twitter with just 45 minutes of the window remaining and with Karanka still yet to unveil any new deadline day signings: “You know your deadline day hasn’t gone to plan when you’re asking if there’s a call-back clause in the Lukas Jutkiewicz loan deal.”

The gaffer can relax for a few months on the transfer front now – before it all starts again in the summer when his first job may well be to attempt to make some of the current loan deals permanent.