Ex-Middlesbrough midfielder backs under-fire Jonathan Woodgate to succeed on Teesside

One of Middlesbrough’s former midfield stars has backed Jonathan Woodgate to succeed after a disappointing start to his managerial career on Teesside.

Thursday, 14th November 2019, 2:24 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th November 2019, 2:37 pm
Jonathan Woodgate looks on during a match between Luton Town and Middlesbrough at Kenilworth Road.
Jonathan Woodgate looks on during a match between Luton Town and Middlesbrough at Kenilworth Road.

Gary O'Neil made 109 appearances for Boro in a four-year stint between 2007 and 2011 after signing for a fee believed to be around the £5million mark.

Middlesbrough, now under the stewardship of former player Jonathan Woodgate, have struggled so far this campaign and sit in the Championship relegation zone with 13 points from 16 games.

“They fight to the end,” O’Neil said of his former team in an exclusive interview with online bookmakers 888sport.

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“They’re all played at 100 per cent and Middlesbrough need to dig themselves out of this because there is no looking at fixtures and thinking ‘we should get three points from that one’ in the Championship.”

O’Neil played under current England boss Gareth Southgate at Middlesbrough before leaving the Riverside Stadium for West Ham United for an undisclosed fee in 2007.

And although the pair didn’t play in the same Boro team, the 36-year-old former Portsmouth, West Ham and Bolton midfielder is backing the club’s young manager to do the business under the right circumstances.

“But in Woodgate and Robbie Keane they have some very experienced guys who have been through a lot in their playing career so they’ll know what the lads are going through and how to help them. I’m sure they’ll be OK. They have January so they might be able to add a bit here and there.

“I think they need to give him more time.”

“They’ve obviously decided that he is the man for them and even though he’s very young managerial-wise he did have the experience of working under Tony Pulis last year.

“I just think that clubs need to be very careful with always changing.

“There has obviously been a huge cut in the budget so Jonathan Woodgate is not working with the same budget others had in previous years and with that has come a drop-off in performances and points return.

“I hope that Middlesbrough give him longer.”