The reasons behind Jonathan Woodgate's controversial Middlesbrough and Newcastle United comparison

Jonathan Woodgate caused something of a stir on social media following this week’s press conference after claiming Middlesbrough’s recent history was better than that of Newcastle United.

Friday, 13th September 2019, 10:07 am
Jonathan Woodgate claimed Middlesbrough’s recent history is better than Newcastle United's.

As you can imagine, the comments didn’t go down too well on Tyneside, the big club debate can be a touchy subject among some supporters, especially when there is no definitive way to measure it.

It should be pointed out that Woodgate, who signed for Newcastle in 2003, didn’t say Boro are a bigger club than their North East neighbours and was instead comparing the clubs’ recent records in terms of trophies and finals.

“I know we’ve only been in the Premier League once in 10 years, but we’ve been to a UEFA Cup final, we won the Carling Cup. Newcastle haven’t. Our history is better than theirs in recent times,” said the Boro boss.

It is certainly a debatable statement, and while Boro’s cup success in the noughties provided significant bragging rights, the UEFA Cup run was now over 13 years ago.

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Yet Woodgate’s remark wasn’t a prepared dig at the Magpies, it actually came off the back of a question about Boro’s new signings.

When discussing the arrivals of Anfernee Dijksteel and Marc Bola, the Boro boss was trying to illustrate the step up in quality from a League One club to the Riverside.

In doing so, Woodgate’s Teesside roots came to the fore as he took an abrupt jibe at Middlesbrough’s local rivals.

Born in Nunthorpe, Woodgate has supported Boro since the age of six and the fan in him is still clear to see. Supporters can relate to that.

Boro fans are well aware of their boss’ background but, after a couple of years out of the spotlight, there was widespread doubt surrounding his managerial appointment back in June.

Since then fans have been reassured by Woodgate’s obvious passion and enthusiasm, but perhaps this was another attempt to build solidarity.

At the time it seemed like a strange comparison to make, maybe the fan in him just couldn’t resist.