Jonathan Woodgate explains tactical decision at Leeds and reveals what he said to players after Elland Road thrashing

Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate said he had to play Paddy McNair in defence against Leeds United as the Northern Ireland international wasn’t fit enough to play in central midfielder.

Saturday, 30th November 2019, 6:09 pm
Updated Sunday, 1st December 2019, 9:42 am
Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate.
Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate.

Boro were thumped 4-0 at Elland Road after goals from Patrick Bamford, Helder Costa and a brace from Mateusz Klich.

Woodgate’s options were limited due to several injury setbacks, the latest of which saw full-back Hayden Coulson ruled out with a hamstring issue.

Striker Britt Assombalonga (ankle) and McNair (glute muscle) were also doubts but played through the pain barrier on a chastening afternoon for the Teessiders.

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McNair was deployed in a back three instead of in his natural midfield rule, a decision Woodgate says he was forced to make.

“Paddy couldn’t have played centre midfield for 90 minutes, he would have maybe lasted 60 minutes that’s why he had to play centre-back and Jonny (Howson) played right-back.

“With the suspensions and injuries that we have that’s how it is but no excuses we got beat by a better, better team.”

Woodgate said he didn’t know if any of his injured players would be available for next weekend’s meeting with Charlton, with the situation becoming desperate.

Adam Clayton aside, Boro’s outfield substitutes at Elland Road had just three Championship appearances between them before the fixture.

Midfielder Ben Liddle and forward Tyrone O’Neill were brought on for their senior debuts, highlighting the position Boro are in.

“Leeds are a very good team, really, really good team, probably the best team in the Championship,” added Woodgate. “The lads kept on going until the end working as hard as they can. We just weren't good enough on the day.

When asked what he said to his players after the game, Woodgate said: “Try to be positive with them, I can’t knock their effort, they just weren’t good enough on the day. Like I said Leeds are a top team, coached by a top, top manager.

“Britt was really 50/50 to play, he tried his best but he’s got a bad ankle. The squad is really thin like I’ve said.

“They wanted to play and wanted to give everything.”