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Jonathan Woodgate needs to address this one Middlesbrough issue to kick-start his tenure: Comment

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This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Comment’ series, this content strand is where the author of the article issues their personal opinion on the topic at hand…

Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate has endured a frustrating start to his spell in charge of the club, after taking over from Tony Pulis during the summer, with Boro’s 4-1 defeat against Sheffield Wednesday at the Riverside on Saturday leaving the club in 19th place in the table having picked up just nine points from nine matches so far.

A slow start to the campaign was perhaps to have been expected considering Middlesbrough’s change in direction during the summer, with the vastly experienced Pulis leaving the club at the end of last season after failing to guide the club into the Championship’s top six, and Woodgate being promoted from within to take on his first managerial job.

Woodgate’s main task this season is to stabilise Middlesbrough whilst he attempts to promote some of their younger prospects and create a more attractive playing style, but so far this campaign he has struggled to manage to pick up consistent results and performances whilst attempting this transition in approach.

Middlesbrough’s undoubted strength under Pulis was the team’s defensive structure and resilience, with Boro conceding just 41 goals last term, which was the joint best record along with promoted Sheffield United, and so far this term Woodgate has largely managed to maintain that defensive record, but Saturday’s heavy 4-1 defeat against Sheffield Wednesday will be a concern that they are beginning to lose their way at the back.

Woodgate elected to switch to a back-four against Sheffield Wednesday, with Daniel Ayala, who started alongside Ryan Shotton and Dael Fry in a back-three at Cardiff City the previous week, dropped to the bench in a bid to help his side create more chances going forwards.

However, that change in shape and starting line-up caused Boro’s defence to look vulnerable to Sheffield Wednesday’s attacks, and inside the opening six minutes the visitors took full advantage of Middlesbrough’s inability to adapt to their shape in the early stages of the contest going two-goals ahead through an Adam Clayton own-goal and defender Dominic Iorfa.

Middlesbrough, simply, are not producing enough in the final third in terms of making and converting chances to be allowing opposition teams to get two-goals ahead of them, and so it proved on Saturday with Wednesday scoring two more goals before the break to put the game well beyond Boro, despite Paddy McNair pulling a goal back to briefly get Boro back to within a goal of their visitors.

Woodgate must start to find a consistent shape and starting line-up that gives his side the best chance of picking up much-needed points, with the potential for three at the back to be his best current option to provide a defensive platform for Boro to build up their play and start to pose more of an attacking threat.

Boro’s players need to be given some consistency in terms of how they know they are going to set up each week, and if Woodgate can give that too them they will have little excuse for not being able to turn around their form, before Saturday’s defeat Middlesbrough were not looking too far away from being able to pick up some wins and they must get back to that now starting with Tuesday’s game at home to Preston North End.


ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Jonathan Woodgate needs to address this one Middlesbrough issue to kick-start his tenure: Comment

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