Former Real Madrid and England defender, Jonathan Woodgate, has been confirmed as the new manager of Middlesbrough Football Club.
Woodgate had been strongly linked with the post and the club finally confirmed the news on their website on Friday morning. He will be joined by former Leeds United team mate and current member of the Irish international teams coaching set up, Robbie Keane. Leo Percovich and Danny Coyne will also join the new coaching team.
Woodgate spent time in the youth setup of his boyhood club in his teenage years before moving to Leeds in 1996. He made over 140 appearances for the Yorkshire club but his time there was marred by injuries and his involvement in an assault in the city which led to him being charged with affray and having to complete 100 hours of community service.
After Leeds were forced to sell for financial reasons, Woodgate moved back to the North East with Newcastle United and despite injuries again being a barrier to him becoming the player he could have been he performed well enough to attract the interest of Real Madrid whom he joined in 2004.
Mixed fortunes in Spain
Woodgate missed the entirety of his first season in Spain and it wasn’t until 13 months after signing that he made his infamous debut which included an own goal and a red card. Despite that start, he managed to make his mark in Madrid but again injuries got the better of him and he returned to England with Middlesbrough in 2006, initially on loan.
After Middlesbrough, he had a spell at Tottenham Hotspur where he won the only trophy of his career by helping Spurs lift the League Cup in 2008. Again his time at the club was blighted by injury and he had a year at Stoke City before returning home to Middlesbrough in 2012. He remained with Boro until his retirement in 2016.
Woodgate showed an intention to stay in football straight away and had a short stint as a scout for Liverpool before joining the Middlesbrough coaching staff in 2017. He has been at the club ever since, working with the youth academy and also with the first team but this appointment is the first time he has taken the main job on himself.
Faith in youth
In an interview with the clubs website, Woodgate said he intended on using his knowledge of the club and it's youth academy to his advantage in his new role.
"I know every player from the Under-12s to Under-23s to first team level and I know what they can do," said Woodgate.
“I won’t be frightened to put a young player in and the fans can start connecting with them, because they have a hunger and a desire to learn and go forward.”
Having finished seventh last season, there will be a belief at Middlesbrough that the club can go at least one better next season by qualifying for the playoffs. The new man are now in place so it's up to Woodgate and his team to make that happen and potentially take Boro back to the top flight where their fans will feel they belong.