You wait a while for a transfer, get your knickers in a twist and then they all come along in the same week.
After Liam Roberts signed on Tuesday, Boro have added Ryan Giles to the first-team ranks on a season-long loan from Wolves, with Darragh Lenihan also joining the club today.
A signing that is a real statement of intent from the club, Giles has been a highly sought-after target this summer for a number of Championship teams after impressing in spells at Cardiff and Blackburn last season. There was also speculation that he would be involved in Bruno Lage’s Premier League squad for Wolves.
A versatile player who can line up on either side of the pitch, the 22-year-old will primarily be used as a left wing-back in Chris Wilder’s system, as the manager looks to address the lack of balance on the flanks that has held back his side at points since taking over.
Speaking to The Gazette Wilder said “We all understand what Izzy did in a short period of time and hopefully he will continue that form, and I’m sure he will. I think what we wanted to do was make sure that we had the same attacking threat on the the left-hand side and I believe we’ve done that”.
Championship defenders will certainly be having sleepless nights in the run up to facing Wilder’s men now that we can unleash Giles on one side and Isaiah Jones on the other. With creative outlets on both side of the pitch to worry about, Boro become a different and more terrifying beast to tackle and all you Championship fullbacks are getting span out your Diadoras.
The former England U20 international was unplayable during the first half of his year away from Molineux, as he wracked up 9 assists in 21 games at Cardiff. possessing a sniper rifle of a left foot to find his target.
It has to be said that unlike Jones, Ryan Giles produced a number of his actual assists (4) from set-pieces, which will give Boro another attacking weapon to utilise though it can be hard to replicate that from team to team. We weren’t particularly threatening from corners under Tony Pulis and his band of merry giants never mind now.
However, his creative ability doesn’t end at dead ball situations and Giles adds qualities to this team that have been sorely lacking for multiple seasons.
Creating 16 big chances across his 32 games last season, Giles immediately leapfrogs his new teammates and becomes the best crosser of the ball at the club. While in his rich vein of form at Cardiff, Giles was firing over 3 accurate crosses per game.
That dropped to 1.6 in his 11 appearances at Blackburn, levelling out as 2.5 per game through the season as a whole. Any of those would have dwarfed Marcus Tavernier’s team leading total of 0.9 a game.
Not to compare him directly to a former Boro star and pile the pressure on but Giles has a hint of Stewart Downing about him, specifically Downing in his first spell at the club.
Boro’s new signing doesn’t possess electric pace or a bag of head-bending tricks to bamboozle defenders. What he does have, like Downing, is a knack of nudging the ball into just enough space to allow him to bend a cross in.
For any fans who are slightly concerned or are refusing to buy into the hype around Giles due to his drop-off in form and productivity when he swapped to Blackburn; there are a couple of important factors to consider.
After being recalled by Wolves to cover for those players missing during the COVID-impacted Christmas schedule, he joined a Blackburn Rovers team that were already starting to go through the annual Tony Mowbray New Year slide.
In the 11 appearances he made for Mogga’s side, he lined up on the left-hand side of midfield, as a right winger, behind the strikers and even as a striker. That lack of consistency can’t of helped a young player who was at a point in his career where he needed to settle into a club after seven previous loans and he’d started to get that at Cardiff.
Even with the drop-off at Blackburn, Giles still would’ve been one of Boro’s most creative players last season. His 1.5 key passes per game while at Ewood Park (passes that lead directly to a shot) matched that of Marcus Tavernier who led Wilder’s side in that category and we’ve already talked about his excellent crossing.
This hasn’t been a flash in the pan 12 months for Giles either. While at Rotherham in the 20/21 season, where he called Matt Crooks a teammate and actually scored against Boro at the Riverside, Giles was able to create 11 big chances in 23 games. That’s only two less than what Isaiah Jones managed this year in 42 Championship outings.
Having the pair on the same pitch is going to make life much easier for Jones, with teams now unable to consistently double up on him, as a quick switch will unleash Giles and vice versa. That’s without worrying about Tavernier/Mcgree and Crooks/Payero arriving from the midfield to run into the space provided by Boro’s wing-backs stretching teams to breaking point.
We’re going to really spoil some manager’s game plans and make them sit up into the early hours of the morning sweating over how to deal with us. We’re gonna be right tricky bastards.
As Wilder addressed yesterday in that discussion with the Gazette, Giles will have to get used to the defensive responsibilities that will be placed upon him by his new gaffer. It’s not unfair to say that his defensive contributions at Cardiff were almost non-existent as he was protected by how much the Bluebirds like to sit back. He won’t enjoy that same freedom here.
Bringing him in early doors at the start of pre-season will be crucial as it will allow the coaching team to drill those messages into him so that he’s raring to go for the opening game against West Brom.
Rightfully, Wilder noted that Giles “will make us a more exciting team. He’ll make us better in that position and will definitely excite supporters”. Giles is excited as well about the club and playing under Wilder if his in-house interview with the club is anything to go by.
That’s the overwhelming feeling from this move – excitement.
For that reason alone and because it’s Friday now, the recruitment team can have TWO GOLD STICKERS.
Photo Credits: Middlesbrough Football Club, Wales Online, Lancashire Telegraph