Daniel Ayala reveals how his role has changed under Jonathan Woodgate and thoughts on the Championship table
Middlesbrough’s Daniel Ayala feels there is more responsibility on his shoulders this season as one of the club’s senior players.
The 29-year-old centre-back has captained the side for most of the campaign with fellow defender George Friend sidelined through injury.
And with several youngsters progressing through the ranks at the Riverside, Ayala is pleased he has the trust of new head coach Jonathan Woodgate.
”I am taking a lot more responsibility this season and it is not just because of being the captain,” said the Spaniard who came through the academy at Liverpool before joining Boro from Norwich in 2013.
“When you look around you there are a lot more younger players.
“When I first came here I was one of the younger players and there were a lot of older, experienced players around me. Now it is the other way and now it is my job to help and guide the younger players.
“It is a responsibility on my shoulders but I think that is what I always wanted. I always wanted to be a captain.
“For me it is quite good. I am quite pleased that the manager has trusted me.”
It’s been some journey for Ayala on Teesside after helping the club win promotion to the Premier League in 2016.
That season will feel like a distant memory to some Boro supporters following relegation back to the Championship and a difficult start to this campaign.
Despite Friday’s 2-1 win over Stoke, the Teessiders remain 20th in the Championship standings ahead of a home fixture against Huddersfield on Boxing Day.
Yet Ayala believes this new-look side are finding their feet under Woodgate and should be higher in the table.
“Halfway through the season and we should be finding our shape and finding our feet now,” Ayala added.
“You never stop learning in football and we are learning a new way with the manager.
“But I think we should be better than where we are in the table.
“I think we are improving slightly and I really hope and think we should start to pick up points soon.”