How Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate is helping the club's next generation
Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate isn’t just looking at the first-team picture and believes it’s important to keep an eye on the club’s next generation.
Woodgate watched Boro’s under-23 side win 3-2 at Sunderland on Monday night, while he’s regularly spoken about promoting from within at the Riverside.
“I try to get to as many under-23s games as I can, it’s important that I show an interest with the 18s, 23s whatever,” said Woodgate ahead of this weekend’s trip to Cardiff.
“I was watching the under-12s out there this week and speaking to one of the younger goalkeepers when our lads were warning up. Paul Crager was doing the session, I went over and tried to help him.
“Just little things, if younger players and younger coaches see the manager is taking an interest in the team and he’s not just bothered about his first team. I want the bigger picture.
“Okay, the first team is the priority but if I can still offer my advice to younger players I think that’s good for the club going forward and good for them.”
After coming through the ranks at Leeds United, Woodgate knows what it feels like trying to break into the senior game.
He also knows about the power of confidence and reassurance, which can help younger players make it to the next level.
“When I was a younger kid (at Leeds) the manager was George Graham and Howard Wilkinson coming through,” added Woodgate. “If they’d have spoken to me I’d have been on cloud nine.
“Now me knowing what it’s like, that feeling, why not go and spend five minutes with them. I had a few of the under-23s in my office the other day and just spoke to them telling them what they are doing really well.
“I think that’s important going forward because confidence can make a player so, so good. If you have a confident player they can just give you so much more. You try things, it’s just a massive thing for me.
“If my players are confident, especially under-23s players, then they’ll perform better.”