Warnock reveals secret behind Watmore signing and how it almost didn't happen [Gazette]

r00fie1

Well-known member

* Sounds like "recruitment" wasnt just an issue for Wilder?.....

[Edited]​

Warnock reveals secret behind Watmore signing and how it almost didn't happen

Former Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock has explained why he pushed to get a deal for Watmore over the line
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Middlesbrough’s Duncan Watmore gets a fist bump from Neil Warnock after the game

Middlesbrough’s Duncan Watmore gets a fist bump from Neil Warnock after the game (Image: CameraSport - Alex Dodd)

Duncan Watmore is still Middlesbrough's main striker - according to the man who pushed to get him at the club.


Neil Warnock had to work hard to persuade the club hierarchy to give Watmore a deal, after the front man had been training with Boro following his release from Sunderland. The former Sheffield United and Cardiff City boss was instantly impressed with Watmore, and says the Teessiders still don't have anyone better.
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The deal came about when Boro were looking for a striker following a failed attempt to bring Wales forward Kieffer Moore to the club. Watmore was recommended by former Sunderland midfielder Gordon Armstrong, but despite some reservations over his goalscoring record, Warnock got the deal done.

"We struggled to get strikers on board at the time," Warnock told talkSPORT. "I look at the strike force at Middlesbrough and I’m still not convinced by it. I remember I tried to sign Kieffer Moore, one of the first things I did.
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"But we tried to offer him less than what he wanted until Cardiff came in and by that time he was too late. They tried to say he was always going to Cardiff but were he heck. We just waited too long trying to save a few quid. Something had to change up there in that regard.

"I’ll never forget signing Duncan Watmore. He came to me and he was going to India because he didn’t have a contract after Sunderland. Gordon Armstrong came to me and said, ‘have a look at him for me please? He’s a lovely lad.’ So I said ‘allright’.
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"He came over to train with us for a few weeks and what a fabulous lad he is! One of the best lads I’ve ever had under me. He was so keen to do well. So I said to him, ‘Listen, instead of going to India, let me see if I can get you a contract here’.
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"It wasn’t going to be a lot of money, so I went to the chief exec [Neil Bausor] and they went to the recruitment guys we had at the club then. They got on the computer and came back and said, ‘his stats don’t add up, Neil. He doesn’t score enough goals’. [!!!]

"I’m watching him in training and what he does is brilliant. We weren’t talking a lot of money either, we’re talking a tenth of what some of the players then were on. Anyhow, this goes on for about four weeks and he hadn’t been paid a penny.

"He came to see me and I said, ‘Dunc, I’m struggling. But I’m going to speak to the owner and if I can’t get anything for you, I understand you’ve got to go’. So I spoke to Steve [Gibson] and we ended up signing him on a very small, short-term contract and he ended up with ten goals and as our top scorer that year.
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"So the stats weren’t right then! He’s just a brilliant lad, and I still think the main striker after all this time. They’ve signed Forss and Hoppe and Chuba Akpom is back now. But I still see Duncan as the main man.”

Watmore has hit four goals for Boro this season, but has been out of action since October. Speaking before the win over Norwich, manager Michael Carrick explained: “Duncan’s situation is ongoing after he had the bang on the head. We’re just being really careful with him really. He has been back training in and around the group, but again it’s a little bit of a day-by-day and assessing it as we go, so we’ll just have to see.”

 
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r00fie1

Well-known member
[Edited]

Duncan Watmore: ‘My injuries gave me a better outlook on life. I don’t have any regrets’

Exclusive interview: The Middlesbrough striker discusses how two career-threatening knee injuries led him to realise that he wanted to make an impact off the pitch

Tom Kershaw
Tuesday 01 March 2022 08:15
<p>Watmore celebrates Middlesbrough’s victory at Old Trafford in the FA Cup</p>

Watmore celebrates Middlesbrough’s victory at Old Trafford in the FA Cup

Duncan Watmore is wondering what felt more sudden: the overnight rise that took him from non-League football and a university degree to heights he dared not imagine or the pain that shot through his left knee and almost forced him into early retirement. “The rise is something you just go along with. You’re young, fearless, and I loved it,” he says. “But life always teaches you lessons and mine was that I couldn’t take it for granted. That’s what the fall did. It gave me a different sense of perspective.”

Watmore is back now, somewhere close to his best and leading the line for Middlesbrough in the Championship, but the third act of his career is more occupational than all-encompassing. It’s not to suggest his love for the sport has dimmed but that, during the “dark times” and those long months of convalescence when he was left contemplating his identity, he began to feel the weight of that void. There was a sense of wider purpose that was missing; a yearning for meaning and motivation that would carry on long after his career came to a more natural end.


“I feel quite blessed that I don’t see myself as a footballer now,” he says. “I play football and I will always give 100 per cent. I still love that feeling of scoring a goal or helping the team, that emotional attachment never goes away. But I’ve become more aware of the impact I can have. There’s more to life and there are issues around the world that we can use football to help try and change.”

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In 2017, Watmore became one of the first English footballers to join Common Goal [https://www.common-goal.org/] and donates 1 per cent of his salary to the organisation alongside his charity work. There are now over 300 members and the hope is that their collective strength can harness football’s vast power and reach.

“Football is so much more than just a game,” Watmore says. “It’s watched by billions and we’ve seen during the pandemic the impact it can have as an industry if we put social purpose at its core. I hope more and more players take someone like Marcus Rashford’s example to use their profile for good and, from my experience, most lads are interested in doing that. I’ve noticed that change in the dressing room. Players are much more aware of the world around them.”

Watmore’s main area of focus with Common Goal has been education, owing largely to his own unusual route into the game. In the past he has referred to himself as an “accidental footballer”, and even if there is little fluke to a career that has spanned over 200 appearances and demanded such deep resolve to overcome successive ACL injures, there is an element of truth to that.

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Watmore had all but given up on his dreams of playing professional football after being released by Manchester United’s academy. He was a 19-year-old at university, studying for a degree in economics and business management and playing part-time at Altrincham when Sunderland plucked him from anonymity in 2013. During the two years he was out injured, after his ACL popped again just six games into his first comeback attempt, Watmore belatedly finished his degree with first-class honours.

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And after being put on furlough by Sunderland in 2020 as his seven-year spell at the club drifted towards its end, he began a Masters in International Business Leadership and Management at the University of York, eventually writing his dissertation on Common Goal, for which he was awarded a distinction. “Education is something that means a lot to me,” he says, referencing projects in Haiti and South Africa. “But players all have their own causes. What Common Goal does is bring them together and get everyone united in a team effort and I’m very proud to be part of that.”
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There was a period when Watmore feared he might have to lean on his degree out of necessity rather than choice. Despite still being only 26, there were few offers to sign him as a free agent in the summer and tepid interest never turned concrete. Time blurred, frustration brewed and it wasn’t until November that Middlesbrough offered him the chance to prove his fitness. One week became four until, finally, Watmore was offered the short stick of a two-month deal. But after scoring five goals in six games the following month, that contract was extended until the summer of 2023. “I feel more comfortable now,” he says, having now made 59 appearances for the club. “I’m not too old but I know, with the injuries I’ve had, I won’t have loads of years left and so with that comes a realisation of being grateful for what you have. I’ve tried to let the fear of what could happen go because it doesn’t help anything. My mindset is just to enjoy it because everything from here on is a bonus.”

<p>Watmore scores for Sunderland in the Premier League in 2016</p>

Watmore scores for Sunderland in the Premier League in 2016
(Getty)

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There was a neat symmetry to that sense of closure last month when Middlesbrough knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup. Growing up, Watmore had a season ticket in the Stretford End at Old Trafford and would watch Cristiano Ronaldo, and the short distance to the pitch felt like a bridge to another world far out of reach. “And then I scored a penalty [in the shootout] to knock him out,” he says, before bursting into laughter. “I see it as one of the highlights of my career. If you’d said three or four years ago, when I was injured and didn’t think I’d play again, that I’d have moments like these again on a football pitch, I wouldn’t necessarily have believed you.

“People always ask me if look back sadly or have regrets because of how the injuries happened, but football has given me so much more than I ever thought it would. It’s been a bit of a unique path but I wouldn’t change anything about it, even the injuries, because it’s given me a much better outlook on life in general. I feel very grateful to have come through stronger on the other side and I’m in a place now where I’m at peace with the game. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
 

S7DiscoDown

Well-known member
You'd have to say 'pound for pound' one of our best signings in recent history. I can't think of many better in terms of the package it's probably cost us.

Just a terrific fit that's worked out brilliantly for both parties. I agree with Warnock that he's still probably 'the best' we have. He adds something that none of the others do. He's a real pest and presence up top.

I think need to give there heads a wobble when commenting about the missed chances. We are a far better side when he plays or even off the bench. Criminaly underused after the signings of Connally and Balogun (like Coburn).

I'd be really disappointed if we don't get him to extend his contract. I would hate to see him go for free in the summer. You think of some of the big name dossers we've had sat on 4 year contracts (Fletcher / Rudy / Britt). None have remotely the attitude of Watmore.

I should also stress that despite my clear love of Watmore. I absolutely slated the signing of him at the time. I simply couldn't understand it with his injury record and stats. I'm not sure if come as 'full circle' with any other Boro player ever.

New deal please 👍
 

r00fie1

Well-known member
Couldnt agree more.
He was the one player Mr Warnock persisted with and his biggest success.
Duncan is a diamond and worth every penny he earns.
Ironic isnt it>>>> the two biggest "duds" have turned out to be crucial to this season>>>>>now hows about that Akpom fella
;)
 

Jedi boro

Well-known member
I’ve always liked watmore and was one of the few pushing for us to sign him as he just had a knack of being in the right place and he always worried me during his time at sunlun. He was always a danger.

To come through the injury ordeals he has shows tremendous inner strength as well I’m delighted for him.

Real Madrid wrote him a great letter when he was injured wishing him all the best that’s when you know this kid has talent.
 

Nobby_Barnes

Well-known member
There we go, Neil had no backing and was performing miracles with his hands tied behind his back.... Keiffer Moore was another one.
Some of you on here are clueless!!!
Take your blinkers off

Thanks👍
 

changingman

Well-known member
Must admit I didn't foresee the impact he'd have when he joined. Thought he might be a useful option but he quickly established himself as one of our better forwards. Has the potential to terrify defenders with his pace and directness. Yes his finishing could be better, but if it was there's no way he'd be turning out in a midtable Championship side.

Long term he's definitely one I'd want to keep around - might not end up being first choice but his dedication and work rate are an exceptional example to others around him.
 

muniz

Active member
That’s my point though is it the truth or it Neil’s truth as it all seems very one sided.
dont need to let the truth get in the way of a good story lol

I think most sacked managers that stay in the game and know how to play the managerial political game to get job after job after job always do and know how to put their spin on the way things went.

The trend is always to lay blame with the board over stuff out your control and they become the eventual reasons you ended up getting sacked when form was bad lol

I can't wait for the day Wilder starts to talk about what went on that will be a popcorn grabbing moment lol, I noticed he hasn't done an open letter to the fans like he did for sheff utd, don't think he gives a **** about us all lol
 

festa5

Well-known member
Watmore has been absolutely brilliant of course he has.

But anyone who can't see the Warnock spin/BS needs their head examining.

The recruitment team were concerned about Watmore's goal record were they? No ****. He says that as if they're idiots and he's a genius but they were right to highlight it weren't they? his scoring stats were terrible. He also played most of his career before coming here as a winger. Not sure what point he's trying to make (other than he's a genius who never makes bad signings of course).

We wouldn't pay Moore what he wanted? Again he makes out like Moore just wanted an average championship salary and we were being stingy. But seem to recall Moore was on a very high championship wage at Cardiff and didn't they end up in financial issues or something not long after?

Very easy to say we should just pay what a player wants and moan about penny pinching when you only plan on hanging around for a year isn't it?
 

jonny_greenings_sock

Well-known member
Funny that we’d be haggling with the manager over what sounds like £1000, £1500 a week.

Also did not expect the Boro recruitment department to have a data room where they crunch the numbers.

Thought it would be more like Steve Gibson sitting on a throne in the Tontine going “Alright son, what part of the north east are you from then, ever been to Pally Park and do you want a coaching job too?” before giving them a five year deal 😁
 

Bruce

Active member
Watmore has been absolutely brilliant of course he has.

But anyone who can't see the Warnock spin/BS needs their head examining.

The recruitment team were concerned about Watmore's goal record were they? No ****. He says that as if they're idiots and he's a genius but they were right to highlight it weren't they? his scoring stats were terrible. He also played most of his career before coming here as a winger. Not sure what point he's trying to make (other than he's a genius who never makes bad signings of course).

We wouldn't pay Moore what he wanted? Again he makes out like Moore just wanted an average championship salary and we were being stingy. But seem to recall Moore was on a very high championship wage at Cardiff and didn't they end up in financial issues or something not long after?

Very easy to say we should just pay what a player wants and moan about penny pinching when you only plan on hanging around for a year isn't it?
Exactly. In fact his scoring record for us has NOT been good enough for someone who is playing as the main striker. For someone playing as a wide-attacker in a three then it's great but that's not what he has done. Watmore to his credit has worked his socks off as a main striker and has been a fabulous signing for us, but we haven't used him in his best role. So Warnock turned out to be right about Watmore but those saying no had perfectly good reasons to be sceptical; a short-term contract for pennies was definitely the way to go. This is what happens when a team with different perspectives is strengthened by disagreements.

I don't begrudge Warnock, his spin. Everyone on the after dinner circuit needs to present a story that is entertaining, interesting and, overall, paints the speaker in a good light. (The occasional self-deprecating story about mistakes helps make the rest seem more believable.) Moore, as you say, would have been a good Warnock target man but clearly we were planning on Warnock being a short-term appointment. Paying Moore more than he was on at Cardiff where he looks to be about the top earner would have been irresponsible and his goal record (roughly 50 goals in 150 championship matches) is bang average. He would have joined Ikpeazu in the wilderness when Wilder turned up.
 
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