MIDDLESBROUGH have a long way to go before they are “out of the woods”.
That was the message from experienced star Jonathan Woodgate – despite the tumultuous Friday night at the Riverside where Boro thrashed Doncaster Rovers.
Just four days after the sacking of boss and club legend, Tony Mowbray, Boro seemed to be a new team as they ran riot against Rovers.
Acting boss Mark Venus described it as a “dream night” and fellow local lad Woodgate was equally thrilled by the manner of the performance.
But he believes that must not just be a flash in the pan and they have to build on that at Blackburn this weekend.
“Let’s not talk daft just because we’ve won 4-0,” said the 33-year-old.
“We’ve got a long season in front of us, we’re not out of the woods yet.
“We’re still an average team at the minute – we can be a lot better.”
Woodgate plus fellow senior players, Rhys Williams and Grant Leadbitter, and Venus met chairman Steve Gibson and chief executive Neil Bausor in the aftermath of the dismissal of Mowbray.
And Woodgate says the players owe it to Gibson – and Boro – to perform.
“First and foremost, we’re all sad the manager got the sack,” he told BBC Tees. “We let him down, we did not play to our capabilities.
“But the chairman has made his decision, we’re backing him and we’re moving on with the new manager.
“Veno hasn’t had long. He’s taken the training and prepared us and we’ve played well for him.
“He’s got to give it a shot hasn’t he?
“He doesn’t know how long he’s got? He could have one year, he could have one game.
“Veno’s go to run the club as he sees for and that’s what he’s doing at the minute.
“That’s why he made the changes he made, because he’s got a shot. He’ll want to give himself the best possible chance.”
Venus, an experienced defender in his own career, selected four centre-halves for the back four – Woodgate and loan signing Daniel Ayala in the middle with Williams and Ben Gibson on their outside.
But Woodgate had no qualms about the choice.
“The lads are all good players,” Woodgate said. “Daniel has come in and I thought he was excellent.
“Ben’s a good player so he can play left-back and Rhys plays right-back for Australia.
“We defended well, but we’re not perfect yet, there are things we need to brush up on.
“We must keep working, keep getting better and then we’ll move in the right direction.”