How Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate is getting the best out of Marvin Johnson after Sheffield United loan spell
At the end of last season many Middlesbrough fans had probably forgotten about Marvin Johnson.
The 28-year-old winger has struggled in a red and white shirt since his move to the Riverside from Oxford in 2017 and made just 11 league appearances during a season-long loan spell at Sheffield United during the 2018/19 campaign.
Yet following the appointment of Jonathan Woodgate at the Riverside in June, Boro’s new head coach vowed to give everyone a fresh start on Teesside. And that’s exactly what he’s done.
It’s still early days but Johnson’s performances during pre-season and Friday’s Championship opener at Luton suggest the wideman has a big part to play this season.
The winger assisted Ashely Fletcher with an inviting cross for the visitors’ opener at Kenilworth Road and looked a threat when cutting in from the right onto his favoured left foot.
When asked about Johnson after the game, Woodgate spoke highly of the player, praising the work he’s put in over pre-season.
“I thought Marvin was really good, he's improving all the time,” said Woodgate at Kenilworth Road. “We've worked on little things to simplify his game and he deserved his start in the team.
“I've always said I'll give everyone a chance and I've proved that. He showed in pre-season what he can do and I've given him that chance.
“He's been really good and his delivery has been really good. He can improve in certain parts but he'll give you energy.”
Johnson’s inclusion in the starting XI was perhaps a little surprising, given the impressive performance from new signing Marcus Browne in Boro’s final pre-season game against St-Etienne.
Woodgate, though, is still confident Browne will be an important player this term and knows the importance of having options on the bench.
“He's only been here a week, he will play games for me, that's without question,” added Woodgate when asked about Browne.
“I've got 11 players to pick, I can't pick them all. I want players on the bench to come in and have an impact.”