Jonathan Woodgate has emerged as the favourite for the Middlesbrough job – but Boro should set their standards higher if they want to return to the Premier League.
It’s hard to predict who will be the Middlesbrough manager come August 3, but with many names in the hat, Boro should really only be targeting one of them: Slavisa Jokanovic.
The 50-year-old might be hard to capture – bearing in mind the club’s struggle with Financial Fair Play – but if the Teesside club get the opportunity, they must grab it with both hands.
When looking at the top four candidates for the job, he must be the one with the best track record – having achieved two promotions from the Championship.
Jokanovic provides a good solution to break the dreariness which has been raining over the Riverside since Pulis’ appointment. He and his Fulham side proved to be the entertainers of the Championship in 2017/18, scoring 79 goals with an exciting and attacking style.
Jokanovic has a very efficient record in the Championship, getting to the Premier League twice with Watford and Fulham.
There was no fairy tale end for the Serbian at Fulham after he was dismissed on November 14, 2018 for enduring a poor start to the season.
Fulham spent over £100million yet it was hard to tell how much input Jokanovic had on these transfers.
Jokanovic’s short and poor record in the Premier League should only motivate him to have another shot, and bearing in mind his current record, that is only likely to come through a promotion – so Boro should pick him up while he’s hungry.
Jokanovic’s Fulham is not quite what Boro have been used to over the past few years; they only scored 49 goals in the league this year – the joint fifth worst in the league – which is pretty shocking for a side which finished seventh.
Jonathan Woodgate is currently the favourite for the job, while Nigel Adkins and Phil Neville are also in the running.
Woodgate is the current first team coach at Boro, and while he is well liked around the club, it would be a risk to expect a real promotion push under him.
Phil Neville is another leftfield choice with a lack of data to make judgement. He has been a success with the England women’s team, but international management is a different kettle of fish to the Championship.
Nigel Adkins hardly evokes exhilaration but could be a good addition to the club. He did a good job at Hull City under quite difficult circumstances and a tight budget – something he might need to do at Boro, and making the most out of his limited resources is something he has had success with in recent years.
FFP regulations might put Jokanovic off the Boro project, but they should do everything they can to get his signature, both if they want to get the fans excited again and if they want to be playing in the Premier League.