Blackburn Rovers v Middlesbrough – Jonathan Woodgate aims to get the better over former Boro chief Tony Mowbray

FEW will know what Jonathan Woodgate is going through at Middlesbrough better than Tony Mowbray – his opposite number in the dug-out today.

Jonathan Woodgate: Faces brother-in-law.

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Both boyhood Boro fans and respected centre-backs in their playing days, the similarities do not end there.

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Like Mowbray, Woodgate has been handed the reins at the Riverside Stadium at a time of transition and retrenchment following the excesses of previous eras.

The current Boro chief is full of admiration for the job done on Teesside by Mowbray, while naturally aiming to get the better of him today.

Woodgate, who remains calm and focused despite Boro’s winless start to the season so far, said: “Tony is a fantastic manager. When he was here, it was difficult for him and he cut a lot of the purse-strings and was not given the money and had to slash the squad. It was a difficult time for him.

“No doubt, if he had had a lot more money, he would have been really successful.”

A further intriguing subplot today sees Woodgate’s brother-in-law, Stewart Downing, on the other side representing the hosts – and there is likely to be a certain amount of piquancy should Boro claim the first win of his tenure.

Another familiar face to Boro supporters will also be in blue and white in the shape of former striker Danny Graham.

Woodgate, whose family will be in attendance at Ewood Park this afternoon, said: “Stewie has been a top player throughout his career and a top player for this football club, let’s not forget that.

“He has been the best player to come through the academy in the past 20 years.

“He has moved to Blackburn and, hopefully, he does well. We speak often on the phone, but it won’t be that much before this game.”