Middlesbrough midfielder Adam Clayton discusses the key changes made by head coach Jonathan Woodgate
Jonathan Woodgate’s Middlesbrough transformation is underway and players are already noticing a real difference in training.
After joining the club in 2014, midfielder Adam Clayton has worked under four previous managers at the Riverside, each one implementing their own style and coaching methods.
Yet the different approaches taken by Woodgate and his predecessor Tony Pulis appear stark, with Boro’s new head coach keen to implement a more attacking, passing-based brand of football.
“The whole ethos of the manager is to press high,” said Clayton following Boro’s 4-0 win over Hartlepool on Sunday. “The previous manager was more of a contain and break. We want to get on the press, we want to ruffle teams, especially at the Riverside.”
Clayton has excelled in a holding midfield role during his five years at the Riverside, predominantly protecting Boro’s back four.
But in Woodgate’s preferred 4-3-3 system, Clayton is required to act as more of a playmaker, dictating the game from the base of Boro’s midfield while seeking out forward options.
“He wants the No.6 to do what he did last year in screening and helping, that sort of thing,” added Clayton. “On the ball it’s sort of get on the ball and try and dictate as much as you can.
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“That’s something I personally will enjoy if selected. The more touches we can get and get your rest on the ball the better.”
Woodgate has also adjusted Boro’s training regime in recent weeks, with more focus on possession-based drills and operating with the ball.
It’s a clear contrast to last summer’s pre-season training programme, when Pulis took the squad to Austria for tiring mountain bike rides and intense fitness sessions.
The new routine also has it’s challenges, yet Clayton insists it’s a joy going into training.
“Everything is with the ball, every day you’re getting 300, 400 touches of the ball,” he added “It’s a different training regime and one that’s very enjoyable to go into work and do.
“At the same time it’s been very, very tough. Everything has been with the ball, playing under stress, under tiredness, dealing with the ball. It’s been really good so far.”