Middlesbrough midfielder Adam Clayton has revealed that new boss Jonathan Woodgate wants the side to “play the right way” in the upcoming season.
Woodgate was appointed at the Riverside in June following the sacking of Tony Pulis.
The North East side scored the least goals of any Championship team above the bottom four last season, which provides a sour reflection of the Welshman’s time in charge.
Things appear to have changed under the new boss and, speaking to the Northern Echo, Clayton emphasised just how different things were at the club with Woodgate at the helm.
He said: “The whole ethos of the manager is different.
“We want to get on the press this season, we want to ruffle teams and get after them, especially at the Riverside.
“If we do that, we’ll get the crowd onside, and it’s one hell of a place when it’s bouncing and everybody’s at it. That’s the atmosphere we want to generate, and getting after the ball will do that.
“We’ve got a young team that’s full of energy, but I don’t think any of the older lads lack the physical ability to do it either.
“It’ll be a very interesting season, one where I’m sure there’ll be highs and lows, there always is. But we’ve got a very excited group, and a group that wants to learn, as well as a manager that wants us to play the right way. We’ll give it a good go.”
The 30-year-old added that this change in ethos was mirrored in the pre-season training sessions.
He said: “Everything has been done with the ball.
“Every day in training, you’re getting 300 or 400 touches of the ball. It’s a completely different training regime and one which is very enjoyable to go into work and do.
“Everything’s been with the ball, and the manager has made a point of trying to get us used to playing under stress and playing under tiredness. There’s been a real emphasis on dealing with the ball – it’s been really good so far.”
This should be hugely encouraging to Boro fans, especially those who were at games week in week out last season and will do the same in the upcoming campaign.
Pulis’ side conceded the joint least goals in the league last season and it is important Woodgate ensures some of that defensive strength remains.
However, the emphasis in pre-season has got to be on attacking fluidity if Boro are going to take the next step, as last season the side were 20 goals shy of any side in the top six and 44 short of league winners Norwich City.
From Clayton’s comments, it appears the new boss is doing exactly that.