Jonathan Woodgate discusses Middlesbrough exit, Steve Gibson phone call and managerial aspirations

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Former Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate says he’s itching to get back into management but admits he may have to reinvent himself as an assistant or coach.

The former defender was sacked by the Teessiders back in June, one game after football resumed following the first national lockdown.

Boro were beaten 3-0 by Swansea at the Riverside, a result which left them narrowly outside the Championship relegation zone and caused Woodgate to be replaced by Neil Warnock.

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“I didn’t know it was coming at all,” Woodgate told the Daily Mail.

Former Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate says he’s itching to get back into management.Former Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate says he’s itching to get back into management.
Former Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate says he’s itching to get back into management.

‘I got the phone call, seven in the morning on a Tuesday, asking me to come to the training ground. It was a horrible feeling, I was on autopilot driving home but I knew it was difficult for Steve (Gibson) as well.

“Yeah, I was surprised it came so soon after lockdown. I’d be grafting, doing hordes of recruitment work and believe we would have stayed up. But there is no lasting awkwardness with Steve.

“I am not a baby and decisions have to be made. Why hold a grudge? He gave me the opportunity in the first place.

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“Neil Warnock is doing a good job and I can’t compare with him for experience. He has been in the game 40 years and won four promotions into the Premier League. I have to look for the next challenge.”

Woodgate also admitted that an accomplished adviser, like his former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp, would have helped his inexperienced coaching team.

"Someone with grey hair who has been and done it and understands what you are going through.” added Woodgate. “I’d had coaching experience but that is different to being a manager.”

Woodgate will take inspiration from former Boro manager Gareth Southgate who also lost his job at the Riverside but went on to manage the England national team.

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“It won’t be easy. I might have to reinvent myself first as an assistant manager or coach,” Woodgate admitted.

“I just love football but it does scare me that I might not get a second chance in management because I know I can do it, that’s the thing.

“Gareth was in a different situation, he’d had three years at Middlesbrough including the Premier League. He did a great job for England Under-21s and was in the right place when Sam Allardyce left. You need things to go in your favour.”

Woodgate does have additional experience from his eight-month spell at Liverpool in 2016, when he worked as part of the Reds’ European recruitment team.

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“I’d always had a good relationship with Michael Edwards (Liverpool's sporting director),’ explained Woodgate. “He was an analyst at Tottenham and I spent a lot of time in his office talking about players. He knew I had a passion for it.

“When I’d been retired for three weeks, he rang and asked what I was doing. To be honest I was bored out of my mind watching daytime TV so when he said ‘do you fancy it’, I didn’t even have to think.

“I loved my time at Liverpool. Michael runs it really well. He has turned the club round for me, who they’ve bought, the money received from selling players.”

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