Steve McClaren has backed Jonathan Woodgate to guide Middlesbrough out of the relegation battle once the season gets back underway.
It’s been a tough first season in management for the 40-year-old who has been tasked with playing attractive, attacking football while also bringing a number of young players into the first team fold.
Add into that the number of senior stars with uncertain futures and you see why it’s been a real baptism of fire.
McClaren, of course, can relate to the challenge that he faces after taking on the Middlesbrough job in the early 00s – his first job in the hot seat – and believes that Woodgate has what it takes to be a success.
Speaking to Hartlepool Mail, McClaren said: “It was a difficult summer and he’s coming to grips with it, it will only take time to come to grips with it.
“Fortunately Steve gave me that time, I think the first four games we lost every one of them but I certainly had his backing all the way through.
“When football resumes Middlesbrough have got a tough task but they’ve got the players and the squad to not be involved in that relegation fight.”
Asked about the players breaking through, McClaren added: “I’ve been impressed with the young players that have been coming in.
“I knew Wing from last year, Spence at right-back and Coulson. I’ve been very impressed with them.”
Can you name where these 15 Middlesbrough players started their career?
There’s no doubting that Jonathan Woodgate has had a tough introduction to life as a football manager.
Picking up a team that were going into a real period of transition would be tricky for any boss, let alone someone who is so new to this side of the game.
That said, I believe that he deserves huge credit for the job that he’s done.
Survival isn’t yet secured but taking everything into consideration he’s done very well to move the team forward this term.