IT may have been a hazardous start to his managerial tenure at his hometown club, but Middlesbrough chief Jonathan Woodgate is counting his blessings for one major reason.
Namely, that the backing of the vast majority of Boro supporters has stayed constant amid trying circumstances.
The vast majority of fans have been very good. We need them. We have to win it; it is a big game and we need the fans with us and we need to be patient.Jonathan Woodgate
In what has the makings of a crunch game in Boro’s campaign, Woodgate and his side will be requiring more of the same this evening.
Last season, open dissent was the mood music played out in two key midweek matches which went against Boro on home soil – a Carabao Cup quarter-final reverse against Burton Albion last December followed by a league loss to Bristol City in the run-in last April.
By contrast, fans have remained stoic amid Boro’s travails this season, with Woodgate desperate to reward that loyalty with victory in what he has readily acknowledged to be a ‘must-win’ game against Barnsley at the Riverside.
“The fans have been very, very good, especially considering the position we are in, let’s be honest,” said Woodgate.
“Last year, we were up near the top with Tony (Pulis) and some games we were getting booed off, remember?
“So this year they have been super-patient and brilliant. Alright, you are going to get the odd one, that is natural.
“But you get the odd one if you are winning games. The vast majority of fans have been very good.
“We need them. We have to win it; it is a big game and we need the fans with us and we need to be patient.
“At times, if we pass a ball sideways from the back, we are still looking to penetrate through the middle, you just need to be patient at times. We need the fans to stay with it, they are the biggest thing for us.”