Middlesbrough FC take on Brentford this weekend as they look to build on their 3-3 draw with Luton on the opening night.
An entertaining draw last time out, were you at least pleased to see Woodgate’s more expansive style coming through?
It was a relief to see Boro playing with a high-pressing, more expansive style. After 18 months of watching a Tony Pulis team, seeing the players only looking forward with slick passing was pleasing on the eye. That shows from the fans’ reaction to the game. In truth, Boro should have won the game after leading twice and missing a penalty at 3-2 up, but the style of play has left supporters feeling positive about the season.
The window closed yesterday, how would you sum up your club’s business?
Good and bad. Good because they’ve added young talent eager to impress and have not broken the bank to bring them in, like they have in previous transfer windows. Marcus Browne has got fans excited as he’s the first recognised winger we’ve signed in some time and had an impressive record at Oxford last season, it was also good because we got some of the high earners off the books. It was sad to see Stewart Downing leave, but Martin Braithwaite and Aden Flint won’t be missed by many.
However, Boro do still look like they’re lacking in certain areas, particularly going forward. The midfielders are all very similar and more defensive-minded and due to the 4-3-3 formation Woodgate wants to play, we’ll be relying heavily on Browne, Marvin Johnson and Marcus Tavernier.
Brentford up next, do you expect them to be promotion rivals?
Brentford are always a side that has the capability of mounting a promotion charge, and they shouldn’t be written off again this season. They have an impressive record in the transfer market and despite losing Neal Maupay, Romaine Sawyers and Ezri Konsa, they still have some serious talent in their ranks.
They’ve managed to keep Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma while Sergi Canos also poses significant threat in the final third. The signing of Pontus Jansson looks an astute one as he arrives with a relatively low-price tag and a reputation in the Championship already.
From their loss to Birmingham, where do you think you can exploit them?
Boro must take their chances. That’s what Brentford failed to do against Birmingham, and they’ll have to make sure they make their chances pay on Saturday to come away with a good result. The Bees will find it hard to make it past Boro keeper Darren Randolph so Woodgate will be relying on Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher to be firing.
Brentford won’t come to the Riverside and sit back; they’ll go for three points and will go for goal at every opportunity. They’ll have to be more clinical in the final third if they are going to be a success this season, and Thomas Frank will look to start that with a win on Saturday.
2-1 Boro. I think it’ll be an exciting game and definitely one for the neutrals. Britt Assombalonga is a good bet to score as well after Woodgate publicly backed him after his penalty miss against Luton. Assombalonga had 18 months of being criticised at every opportunity by Tony Pulis and he should shine with public backing.