* Sounds like "recruitment" wasnt just an issue for Wilder?.....
Warnock reveals secret behind Watmore signing and how it almost didn't happenFormer Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock has explained why he pushed to get a deal for Watmore over the line
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.
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.
"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’.
"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’.
"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.
"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.”
Neil Warnock almost coudn't sign 'fabulous lad' Duncan Watmore
Former Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock has explained why he pushed to get a deal for Watmore over the line