Middlesbrough are preparing to face Luton Town in their season opener and Jonathan Woodgate’s first competitive match in charge of the side.
Boro will travel to Kenilworth Road to face the Hatters at 19:45 this evening, as the Teesside outfit kick off a new era following Tony Pulis’ dismissal over the summer.
Former defender Woodgate was appointed as the club’s head coach back in June when he was tasked with helping forge a “new identity” for the north-east side.
There have been a total of three arrivals since Woodgate’s appointment with Marcus Browne, Tomas Mejias and Marc Bola all arriving at the Riverside Stadium, while Aden Flint and Stewart Downing have been among those to depart.
Ahead of the new season, Burnley defender Ben Gibson issued a message to his former side regarding the Luton clash:
Really looking forward to watching @Boro tonight. Wishing everyone the very best of luck for the new season especially Woody and all his staff ???????????????????????? UTB
— Ben Gibson (@bengibson1993) August 2, 2019
Gibson said he was “really looking forward” to watching Boro in action, and he also sent a good luck message to his former teammate and coach Woodgate.
The defender, who is a Middlesbrough academy product, made 203 appearances for the club between 2010 and 2018 before sealing a switch to Premier League side Burnley in 2018.
This message will mean a lot to Middlesbrough fans, as it shows Gibson still has strong affections for the club he represented for so long.
His performances in the 2017/18 campaign meant he fully deserved his Premier League switch, but it has not worked out quite how he would have liked as he struggled for playing time last term.
Boro fans would certainly be keen to see Gibson back in the red jersey this season, but it depends whether Burnley are prepared to let him make the switch as they will see him as a sound back-up central defensive option.
Regardless of this, it is important Boro kick off their campaign with a victory against newly promoted Luton tonight before making serious movement during the last week of the transfer window.