AHEAD of the first of three home games of critical importance in the context of Middlesbrough’s – and very possibly his own – fate this season, Jonathan Woodgate is grateful for the backing of the two most key elements in any football club.
Namely from his chairman Steve Gibson, allied to the continued support of the majority of Teessiders, who are generally showing patience with ‘one of their own’ in what always had the makings of a tough and transitional season.
That said, any more episodes like last Saturday’s embarrassing 4-0 defeat at Leeds United are likely to put that trust in serious danger and potentially break it.
Reports linking Neil Warnock with the Boro role earlier this week were an indication of the growing pressure Woodgate is under, but the man himself is staying focused.
Speaking ahead of today’s game with former Leeds United team-mate Lee Bowyer’s Charlton, Woodgate said: “It is speculation, no problem at all. That is what the papers do, you see it constantly.
“I do not really pay much attention, to be honest.
Okay, results need to be a lot better than what they are. But he is behind me.Jonathan Woodgate
“I have spoken to the owner already and he is really behind me and focused on the job in hand. Okay, results need to be a lot better than what they are. But he is behind me.
“The squad is really unbalanced and thin and I am sure he understands that as well. With the FFP (Financial Fair Play), we have to fit in among that.
“It is tough at the minute, but it will get better.”
Today sees Woodgate renew acquaintances with Bowyer, with the pair infamously embroiled in a lengthy court case after an incident outside of a Leeds city centre nightclub in January 2000.
After high-profile careers, both are now turning to make a name for themselves in the dug-out for the right reasons, with the stronger early impression made by Bowyer.
Woodgate, whose side also face key Riverside games with Stoke and Huddersfield late this month, said: “Lee has done a fantastic job.
“I went to watch them a couple of times last year and they had a really good team and players.
“This season, he has been up and around the play-offs. Okay, they have slipped a bit of late, but Lee is a really good manager and person.
“(For us) I am sure there will be a reaction from the Leeds game and knowing that team in the dressing room, they will want to put that right.”