The Middlesbrough FC 2019-20 "Woodgate Out!" thread

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Post by dyrewolfe on Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:40 pm

Well its been another pre-season of change for Middlesbrough (henceforth known as Boro).

Tony Pulis departed, having steered Boro to 7th last season (though we spent most of the season in the play-off places). But apparently he did his job of keeping the club comfortably in the Championship, on a shoestring budget, to counter the previous big spending during Garry Monk's reign and Steve Gibson's ill-fated quote that we were going to "smash the league".

In keeping with our track record of never hiring the same kind of manager twice in a row, (and giving people their first managerial jobs), in came local legend Jonathan Woodgate - former Newcastle, Spurs and England defender, (the less said about his stint at Real Madrid the better). He also spent 2 spells at Boro, the first on loan from Madrid, the second as a full signing.

We've not done too much in the transfer market since Pulis' departure. A few high profile players have left, including Martin Braithwaite and Stewart Downing, while only two new faces have come in - defender Marc Bola from Blackpool and midfielder Marcus Browne from West Ham.

Seems we are still operating on a pretty tight budget. Still, we've retained the core of the squad that performed reasonably well last season and Woody's playing philosophy is quite different to his predecessor's, with more emphasis on passing & movement, pressing and attacking.


Just witnessed the first game of the new regime tonight, with Boro visiting Luton Town and...wow...we could be in for quite a season.

Lots of things were very familiar. Boro started brightly and got the opening goal after a little over 6 minutes. However by the 15 minute mark, Luton were noticeably tightening their grip on the game, with more possession and showing more of a threat on the Boro goal. The inevitable equaliser soon came and before the half hour mark they were 2-1 up.

So far, so very Boro. A few good flashes but generally out-played by their opponents and deservedly behind.

Second half was quite a different story. Woody's half time team talk evidently had an effect, as Boro were decidedly sharper and more purposeful.

Luton can count themselves unlucky as they had a good penalty shout turned away (i.e. completely missed by the ref and his assistants). Basically 2 players scrapping for the ball, got their legs tangled and both went down in a heap just inside the corner of the area.

Not long after, more pressure from Boro resulted in a great chance for Assombalonga. I groaned at first as his shot seemed quite tame, but the Luton keeper chose to sink awkwardly to his knees with his hands out in front of him, leaving just enough room for the ball to sneak past him. If he'd done a full-blooded dive, he'd have saved it...not that I'm complaining. Anyway, Boro were back on level terms.

More out of character for Boro, we continued to attack, although the game was fairly even overall, as the home side continued to get forward and threaten when they could. With just over 20 minutes left, a bit of pinball in the Luton area resulted in the ball falling to Lewis Wing, who had time & space to unleash a perfectly positioned rocket into the top corner...Boro back in front!

Still Boro pressed for a 4th to kill the game off...and should have had it when Coulson was brought down in the host's area. Up steps Assombalonga...unfortunately his penalty was something Owen Farrell would have been proud of. More heads in hands as normal service was resumed.

More normal service occurred in the closing stages as Boro predictably got rather panicky in defence and some crappy defending allowed the hosts to equalise with 5 minutes to go. Final score: Luton 3 - 3 Boro.

If I'm honest, a draw was a fair result. Don't think either side deserved 3 points...but still a bit gutted nonetheless.

I think I can see what Woody is trying to do, with regards to playing style, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. We seem alarmingly leaky at the back, considering JW is a former defender. Then again, we said the same about our play under Tony Mowbray.

Still...it was thrill-a-minute stuff compared to the tedium we endured under Pulis. Don't think we need to concern ourselves with the promotion race this season, but we can still look forward to a lot of entertainment, if this is anything to go by.


Last edited by dyrewolfe on Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by westisbest on Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:06 am

Think Boro should be around the play offs.
Will be interesting to see how Woodgate and Keane do this coming season.

Least you’ve started with a point at least. Away to the league 1 champions. Smaller ground. Be tricky for some teams.

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Post by dyrewolfe on Mon Aug 19, 2019 2:14 pm

Well its early days still, but I have a bad feeling that the template for this season has already been set...and its not looking good.

After the opening day ding-dong at Luton, we've since seen a (mostly) second string Boro lose at home to Crewe in the League Cup. We were 2-0 down until the last 15 minutes or so, after Woody made some subs. Pulled it back to 2-2 to take the game to penalties...only to lose 4-2, thanks to Browne having his shot saved and Britt missing the target...again!

FFS Woody take Assombalonga off penalty duty as he's shockingly bad!  mad


Following that was a home defeat by Brentford...against the run of play, some would argue. Boro had the better of the game in all respects...more possession, more shots on target, more corners...yet we failed to convert them into goals. Well, Fletcher put the ball in the net twice in the first half, but both efforts were ruled out...first for handball and the second for offside. Britt also hit the post, but that was a good as it got for us.


And on Saturday was a dismal, lethargic, toothless performance at Blackburn (who were hardly great themselves). Game was settled by a 1st half penalty, conceded by Dijksteel, pulling a player down in the area. Just 2 shots on target all game. Absolutely pathetic.

So just 1 point from our first 3 games and dumped out of the League Cup in the 1st round, by a League 2 side. I'll still give Woody and the team the standard 10-game period before I start trashing them in earnest (or praising, should they turn things around) but its not looking good so far.

Our defence is a shambles, our midfield static and lacking any creativity and our forwards are barely getting any service. Sad  If Woody and the coaching staff can't get some semblance of organisation & discipline instilled into the team, we are in for a long and depressing season. Hard to believe its mostly the same squad that Pulis guided to 7th place last season.
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Post by dyrewolfe on Mon Sep 23, 2019 9:18 am

Well, we're 8 games in and its still looking like a potential relegation scrap season.

Got our first win of the season at home to a pretty poor Wigan. Just managed the 1 goal and 3 shots on target all game - Assombalonga scoring mid-way through the first half.

Followed that up with a dour draw at home to Millwall. McNair getting on the scoresheet for the Boro with 20 minutes to go. Our defence promptly went to sleep and the visitors got the equaliser just 4 minutes later. We had just 2 shots on target all game...Millwall managed 4...

Would have taken a draw away at Bristol City and overall not too disappointed we got one. Hosts took the lead in the first half, with Boro benefitting from an own goal, not long after the hour mark. Britt then struck just 4 minutes later to put us ahead...only for Bristol to grab an equaliser inside the last 10 minutes. We actually largely outplayed Bristol...had more possession, created more chances & corners, so we could also be proud of the performance.

Just when we were thinking the Bristol game might signal signs of growth and improvement, we were brought back to Earth pretty swiftly with a dire performance at home to Reading. Johnson scored on the hour to give us the win...but bloody hell was it painful to watch and we owed a big debt to Darren Randolph for keeping a clean sheet. Boro were largely outplayed by the visitors, who had more possession and created more chances.

Just followed that with a miserable trip to Cardiff, where Boro were sunk by a Fletcher own goal after just 2 minutes. Headed a corner kick into his own net under no pressure whatsoever. Though we had more possession and won more corners, we failed to muster a single shot on target all game. Absolutely abysmal performance.

So, still no real signs of improvement. Still playing like a collection of individuals, rather than a team. A defence that still has no clue how to do its job and midfielders who still fail to create many chances for our forwards.

We've averaging just over a point a game, which would be just enough to keep us safe...hardly inspires confidence. Still time for things to change, but its gonna have to happen fairly soon.
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Post by dyrewolfe on Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:23 pm

Right, I'm calling it now...WOODGATE OUT!

11 games into the season...basically a quarter of the way through...and Boro are sitting just 2 points above the relegation zone.

Following the dismal showing at Cardiff, Boro hosted Sheffield Wednesday (led by former Boro Manager Garry Monk). To call it a disaster is putting it nicely.

Boro were 0-2 down inside the first 6 minutes (one of them yet ANOTHER own goal).

Boro pulled a goal back after 20 minutes, but Wednesday restored the 2-goal cushion just 3 minutes later (courtesy of former Boro player Adam Reach).

The visitors made the score 1-4 with 10 minutes of the first half still to play...and thats how it stayed (not sure how...it could have been a cricket score).

More abject, clueless defending, coupled with equally clueless forward play and utter lack of threat in attack (just 2 shots on target all game).


That was followed by a pretty lacklustre home draw against Preston - both goals coming within a couple of minutes of each other at the end of the first half.

Then on Friday, Boro travelled to Birmingham for a predictably tough game. Brum took a deserved lead midway through the 1st half and dominated for most of the match. One of Boro's few passages of good play resulted in a late equaliser - the 87th minute! You might think that would have been enough to salvage a lucky point...but no...Boro had switched off yet again and let the hosts score again just 2 minutes later. mad Rolling Eyes furious

Far from improving, our players are looking more clueless and less interested with every passing game. I suspect Woodgate has lost the dressing room already, because god knows the players look like they don't give a damn when they're out on the pitch.

I sincerely hope Gibson has been taking note and is already on the lookout for potential replacements, because based on performances so far, Woodgate needs to be gone in time for the January transfer window. The club also needs to make a SERIOUS effort to bring in some QUALITY replacements for the bunch of Muppets currently masquerading as professional footballers.
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Post by dyrewolfe on Thu Dec 12, 2019 4:15 pm

Well, since the last post, it seems there may just be a glimmer of light at the end of a very long tunnel.

Although Boro went on a run of 4 games without scoring, including 2 draws and 2 defeats, which saw the club enter November in the relegation zone, they went on to lose just 1 of their next 6 (a 4-0 thrashing at Leeds).

While that was truly abysmal and depressing to watch, we picked up nervy wins at home to Barnsley and Charlton, while also getting points against QPR, Hull and Forest.

Mostly, the football is still poor, but Boro have been showing some genuinely good attacking play in limited spells.

Most impressively, they managed to grind out a draw away at a top 6 side in their last game...which does make me wonder if we have finally turned a corner.

While we have plenty more tough games to come, it does seem as though Boro have finally discovered some fighting spirit, which will go at least some way to offsetting the frequently terrible football.

At the moment, it looks like we may just survive after all.
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Post by dyrewolfe on Sun Dec 15, 2019 10:01 am

Lol!

Well, so much for turning a corner. After 6 games where it looked like we were finally getting our act together, we go off to Swansea and concede a daft penalty in the first half.

We rally in the second half and grab an equaliser...then implode spectacularly, with Browne and McNair getting themselves sent off for a dangerous tackle and violent conduct respectively, in the space of 14 minutes.

In between the red cards we concede 2 goals, gifting the hosts a comfortable win, when for over an hour it had looked like a close contest and that Boro would come away with a deserved draw.

There is a serious discipline problem at the club and morale seems to have hit rock bottom.

We have 2 supposedly easy home games coming up, against Stoke and Huddersfield. If we don't pick up maximum points from those, we could be back in the relegation zone, as after that we have to face West Brom and Preston away.
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Post by dyrewolfe on Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:53 am

Well Boro did indeed pick up maximum points from Stoke & Huddersfield...which, to be honest, was expected, even for a club doing as badly as we are.

Those wins seemed to give us a boost, as we then went on to win our next 2 games (both away)...against promotion contenders West Brom and high-flying Preston!

4 wins on the bounce...unheard of!!! Shocked

Did this mean our season was finally about to take off?

Of course not - don't be daft!

Although Boro then fought out a hard-earned draw at home to Derby, the general feeling was it was 2 points dropped, rather than 1 earned.

Since then, our season has limped along, with an unsurprising defeat at Fulham...a game we were never really in.

This was followed by 2 lacklustre home draws against Birmingham and Blackburn...both games we ought to have been looking to win. In both games we conceded first and needed late equalisers to rescue a point.

On to high-fliers Brentford...a game we didn't have high hopes for. To just about everyone's surprise, following a slow start, Boro came to life in the second half, twice coming back from a goal down. But...typical Boro...we conceded a third with just 3 minutes of normal time to play.

Another away trip to Wigan should have provided another springboard to get our season going again. But yet again we started slowly and conceded first. It was over an hour before Boro got going and Wigan had a player sent off for a 2nd yellow card. Lewis Wing pulled Boro level with a brilliant free-kick, then 4 minutes later edged us ahead with a trademark long-range screamer.

A man advantage and 2-1 up...surely this was 3 points in the bag? But no...More abysmal Boro defending saw on-loan defender Moukoudi head into his own net with 15 minutes to play. Points shared once again.

You just wonder how many different ways Boro are going to find to sabotage themselves. Even though we are managing to play well in short spells and score goals, you feel every time the opposition gets near our penalty area, they will score.

Woodgate keeps chopping and changing the starting 11 and formations, from game to game. No discernible tactics and zero organisation. We rely far too much on wing-backs Coulson and Spence, as well as midfielders such as Wing and Tavernier to make something happen. Still a long way from playing as a team.

I think he's pretty much proven he's incapable of managing a team and if it wasn't for the fact we'd be hard-pressed to bring in a good replacement, I'd expect him to be gone at the end of the season. Sadly, we can't afford the wages for a good manager and certainly can't offer then much of a transfer kitty. So it looks like we're stuck with this clown for the foreseeable future.

Wonder what Gibson will do if we're in serious danger of relegation next season. Still not completely out of the woods now as it is.
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Post by Good Golly I'm Olly on Tue Feb 25, 2020 11:54 am

Some big big games coming up Dyre - teams below picking up pace too
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Post by owen10ozzy on Wed Feb 26, 2020 9:39 pm

Got to go....if others werent picking up points it would be a little easier to stomach. But Barnsley and Wigan have both picked up results yet again and look far better equipped to put up a fight.

Woodgate stumbled on success over xmas...for all the talk of how he has been unfortunate with injuries, he has only once had a lineup which has played the type of football he wanted and got results and that was during the spell over december where his hand was forced both in terms of personnel and tactics.

Soon as the experienced players returned to fitness, the status quo resumed and results have spiralled since. Over the last two weeks he has got his selection horribly wrong and worst still his explanation for leaving out players who had been performing better than others (effort and attitude on training ground) beggars belief. You can have that stand point if your not in a relegation fight needing every point...but when 2 or 3 of your best players in terms of form are being dropped because the attitude away from match day may not be right your cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Id have loved to have seen him succeed and by no means did i expect us to be anywhere near the top 10....i didnt expect this horrific season and the silver lining of intense...pressing and exciting football hasnt come to fruition either (not even close)...1 shot on target in last 270 mins of football..115 in total all season!! Believe thats one of the 15 lowest across the whole football pyramid. Add in one of the fewest amounts of goals scored out of the 90 football league sides and it paints a pretty horrendous picture!

Local and loyal lad with all the good intention in the world....plenty of the correct soundbites coming out of him in the media throughout....but out of his depth everywhere else. Thank you but goodbye for me!

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Post by dyrewolfe on Fri Feb 28, 2020 6:57 pm

Good Golly I'm Olly wrote:Some big big games coming up Dyre - teams below picking up pace too

Quite honestly I don't see where our next point is coming from, after 3 games without as goal and only 2 shots on target in those. Think Stoke and Hull represent our best chances of a win...possibly also Wednesday, if they continue their current struggles. Right now though I don't think we could beat a National League team.

Out of the drop zone on goal difference only. Seriously worrying times now.


owen10ozzy wrote:
Local and loyal lad with all the good intention in the world....plenty of the correct soundbites coming out of him in the media throughout....but out of his depth everywhere else. Thank you but goodbye for me!

I dunno about "correct" sound bites. He's trying so hard to sound positive, its coming across as positively deluded. His words are so at odds with what we're seeing on the pitch, its beyond farcical.

Sadly its got to the point that, even if we sacked him now and brought in someone like Warnock, it might not be enough to keep us up. That said, at least we could look forward to next season with the hope that things would improve. No chance of that happening while Woody remains.

The Barnsley, Wigan and Luton games were absolutely soul-destroying to watch. We were utterly clueless (both manager and players) with some looking very much like they've jacked it in for the season.

Leeds, we at least made an effort...not that we looked much more effective. Hit the woodwork a couple of times. Honestly, I think we are staring at League 1 next season, unless some drastic changes are made.
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