Steve Gibson's new approach plus new Middlesbrough boss reveals Newcastle, Leeds and Tottenham influences: SEVEN things we learnt from Jonathan Woodgate's first press conference
Jonathan Woodgate made a positive impression during his first day as Middlesbrough manager – but what did we learn?
But what did we learn from his opening press conference?
Woodgate was joined by Boro chairman Steve Gibson, Head of Recruitment Adrian Bevington and Chief Executive Neil Bausor at Rockliffe Training Ground, as well as the club’s new coaching team: Robbie Keane, Leo Percovich and Danny Coyne.
We take a closer look at Friday’s presser and some of the key talking points:
Woodgate wants an attacking philosophy
Those wondering what they can expect from a Jonathan Woodgate Middlesbrough side were given a definitive answer by their new boss.
“Firstly, I want to pass the ball. Pass the ball, keep the ball,” said the former defender. “I want players to run with the ball, it's important that when you lose the ball you win it back as quickly as possible.”
The addition of former Tottenham striker Keane to Boro’s coaching staff should help the Teessiders in a department they desperately struggled last season.
Only four sides in the Championship scored less goals then Boro last season, a stat Woodgate will hope to amend.
Youth will be key
Boro’s academy is regarded as one of the best in the country and Woodgate will be keen to utilise it.
“I know the club inside out from Under-12s to the Under-23s to the first team,” he said. “It's important we play that style all the way through the club.”
When asked if Boro can make better use of their academy, chairman Steve Gibson added: “I think we have used it very well in the past, I think we can use it more so in the future.”
Woodgate will get time
Two years ago, Middlesbrough went down the route of appointing a young up-and-coming manager when Garry Monk signed a three-year contract.
Yet the former Leeds boss was sacked just before Christmas, with Boro sitting ninth in the Championship.
Monk’s departure came after Boro's hefty spending spree in the summer of 2017, when Gibson said he wanted Boro to ‘smash the league’.
Yet Gibson looks set to take a different approach with Woodgate, and when asked what the club’s expectations are for next season, Gibson replied: “I’m not going to put that type of pressure on.
“These four have just come together. It’s a season of change. There’s a lot of change going on at this football club, and with change comes risk.“We’ve got time, and we will be patient. What we all want to see is progress on the pitch, and progress off the pitch.”
Gibson will back his new boss
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Following Gibson’s complaints about other clubs breaking the EFL’s Financial Fair Play rules, there are some doubts about the budget Woodgate will have available this summer.
But while Boro are unlikely to spend to the large extent they did two years ago, Gibson insisted his manager will have money to spend.
When asked if Woodgate will be backed in the transfer market, Gibson replied: “Of course we will, yes. We have a history of doing that don’t we?”
Former bosses had a big influence
During his accomplished playing career, Woodgate played under several managers during spells at Leeds United, Newcastle, Real Madrid, Boro, Tottenham and Stoke.
Despite his lack of managerial experience, Woodgate says he’s learnt a great deal from each of his former boss, including his Boro predecessor Tony Pulis.
“If you look at the coaches I've worked under before, with a Bobby Robson - a different style, with a Venables – a different style, with a Redknapp – a different style, with an O'Leary – a different style,” said Woodgate.
“They are all different styles so whatever I want to do I will try to implement that on the football pitch.”
On Pulis, Woodgate added: “I couldn't have done this job without his guidance and the way he was with me. Honestly he was fantastic, a superb man, a really good solid man and the chairman would say the same.”
Woodgate won’t let standards slip
The former defender wants to set high standards at the Riverside next season – from his players to the press.
“Like today, the press conference started at 12.30, it didn't start at 12.31 and there were a few journalists who were late,” said Woodgate when asked what he can achieve on a three-year contract.
“It starts when it starts and that's the standards that we will be setting throughout the football club and that's with the players as well.”
New boss has the fans at heart
A passionate Middlesbrough fan, Woodgate wants the club to succeed as much as any Boro supporter.
“I've been a Middlesbrough fan since I was six years old and my father used to take me to Ayresome Park,” said Woodgate, who played for the club on two separate occasions.
“I've been through all the games from Ayresome Park to the Riverside, cup finals, I've been everywhere.
“I'm just honoured to be the head coach.”