THAT well-known phrase ‘it never rains but it pours” is nothing to do with the weather as far as beleaguered Middlesbrough are concerned.
Without a win in eight matches, dumped in the relegation zone and scarcely able to buy a goal, let alone a win, Boro’s torment has been added to this week with as many as nine players likely to be unavailable today.
But for manager Jonathan Woodgate, it is a case of ‘what does not kill you makes you stronger.’
He insisted: “What is outside does not get to me. I know there will be a lot of negativity around, but there was before I got the job anyway. It does not bother me.
“Is there pressure? Yes there is. That is the job I am in. That is why I want to be a manager.
“It is the pressures of the game. You are under serious amounts of pressure as a player and it is the same as a manager.”
With Ashley Fletcher and Rudy Gestede both among those sidelined, Britt Assombalonga, the only Boro forward to score since the end of August, will shoulder the burden again up front, with the visitors coming up against a recent blast from the past in Jordan Hugill.
The boyhood Boro fan struggled to make an impression at his home-town club on loan last term, but has impressed at Rangers and a decisive strike from the Teessider today would rub salt into open wounds for travelling fans.
Woodgate added: “He got a bit of stick when he was here but he has showed that if he gets the service he will bang in the goals.
“Why didn’t it work out for him at Boro? Maybe it was how we played at times.
“He did a lot of work but did not always have someone up there with him.”