Three things Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate must do to turn the tide
With Middlesbrough just two points above the Championship relegation zone, the question regarding manager Jonathan Woodgate doing the rounds at the Riverside is simple: how can the ex-Galactico avoid hitting rock bottom?
Here, we take a look at the three key issues facing Woodgate as he bids to avoid a relegation battle.
1: Firing blanks. Boro have averaged only one goal a game so far this term, a rate that puts them firmly in the bottom half of the table.
Only averaging four shots on target per game, and with only four of their 11 Championship goals having been scored by strikers, it is clear where Boro’s greatest problem lies.
2: Generosity. Were Boro as mean defensively as they were last season, they might now be looking at the play-offs rather than the drop zone.
Despite being seriously shot-shy under Tony Pulis, Boro conceded only 41 league goals last term - the joint best record in the Championship alongside promoted Sheffield United.
Under Woodgate? The Teessiders have conceded 16 goals in their first 11 games at a rate of 1.45 per outing.
3: Crosses. Within those worrying defensive stats, Woodgate’s use of an out-of-position Ryan Shotton at left-back and the performances of new boy Anfernee Dijksteel at right-back have been concerning.
Boro have been conceding a lot of crosses – and shown a vampire-like aversion to dealing with them.
Although fans shed few tears when Aden Flint left for Cardiff City in the summer, some are now missing the imposing centre-back’s aerial ability.