Can Woodgate Make It a Winning Start for Boro?
By Robert Nichols
Friday 02 Aug 2019 13:45:00
Browse all Match Previews articles


Jonathan Woodgate will step out onto the pitch at Luton tonight a proud man. But it is at Kenilworth Road where the talking stops and the action begins. Can Woodgate and Boro make it a winning start as the Championship juggernaut starts to roll out again. Come on Boro. Kick off 7.45pm.

Boro and Luton both have new bosses. Luton manager Graeme Jones began his coaching career for our Academy. For the home side it has been a long road back to the second flight of English football and we have not played each other since that 2-1 win in the final game ever at Ayresome Park.

Boro's last visit to Kenilworth Road saw the Hatters knock five past Bryan Robson's table topping side. It was such a seismic shock that it drove poet John Hegley to write a poem about the game.

We want to see no poetic licence tonight. An away victory would be a superb start for the new attacking and pressing approach of Woodgate. Yes, the talking stops down the M1 in Bedfordshire. Can we take all the points?

Here are a few quotes from the new gaffer taken from his press conference this week at Hurworth.

Is he ready for this?

“We have worked as hard as we could over pre season. Me and my staff have been really organised. I can't wait for the start of the season.”

How will his Boro play?

“Most managers have different philosophies and mine is totally different (to Tony Pulis) how I see the game played. I want to attack team and press teams and really get about them. That is how I see the game being played, high energy and try to score goals.”

Would he settle for 3-2 as long as we win?

“I want to keep clean sheets. There is a time when you want to stay compact and there is a time when you press in different areas. You don't just go willy nilly.”

We still look short of bodies are you looking to make new signings still?

“I am optimistic that we will sign a few more players. I think it is important We need to add to the squad that's for sure. I am sure Adrian and Neil are working as hard as they can to make this happen.”

What positions are you targeting?

“I know what I want but I am not going to broadcast it live.”

Is this your dream managing Boro?

As a young kid I didn't dream of managing Middlesbrough but from the age of say 30 years old I always wanted to manage Middlesbrough Football Club. And so I am privileged to manage this fantastic football club.

Does it bring extra pressure on you being local?

“There are bigger things in life with more pressure to it, that's for sure. But it is a big club for my first job but I am sure I will take it in my stride, I have great support staff around me and all the staff at the football club will help me.”

If you were 8 or 10 or 12 years old now living here how excited would you be now as a supporter?

“I would be really excited, we are young, vibrant coaching team. We want to try and buy younger players and get younger players into the team. I would be really excited, it is a good time to support Middlesbrough.”

Have any youngsters stood out for you in pre-season?

“I think Hayden Coulson has been the stand out performer all pre season. I was trying to push Hayden two seasons back when Tony Pulis first got the job. I see Hayden as a fantastic talent. He went out on loan twice last season and didn't go great at times. But it can be the environment you are in and there is a fantastic environment now at this football club. I am behind him and I will give him all the confidence in the world to succeed. He can play a number of positions for me and he has been fantastic in training. In my view Hayden Coulson will be going places.”

Did Tony Pulis lay foundations at the club?

“Tony Pulis set foundations for myself. I wouldn't be here now without that. He gave me roles to do within the football club. I could hold one on one meetings and hold team meetings, take training sessions, shape sessions he would let me do. I really enjoyed working with him because he gave me that freedom and helped me along with how to deal with different situations. So, without Tony and his guidance it would be difficult. The experience I gained was fantastic.”

Is it important to have experience as well as youth?

“You need the right blend, you need George Friend, the Johnny Howson's you need the right blend to bring these players on. What it takes to make it to the top. You can have all ability in the world but if you haven't got the right attitude, the desire and the hunger you won't get there. Ability can only take you so far. That is why you have these players in the dressing room they are good players but also to bring the young players on.”

Will Friend and Randolph be fit?

“I would like to think Friend and Randolph will be fit for Luton.”

And finally how do you see the first game v Luton?

“We have got a good away record but a newly promoted team live on Sky with a full stadium. I will see this every week the Championship every game is tough, every game is a cup final. It is relentless Saturday Tuesday Saturday Wednesday Saturday. Non stop. Games thick and fast. League, FA Cup constant. Every game is tough.”

Let's win it.

Come on Boro and Up The Boro

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