Sport Soccer

Saturday 17 August 2019

'Can you imagine the young players here learning from Robbie Keane?' - Jonathan Woodgate praises his new Boro assistant

Handout photo dated 14/06/2019 provided by Middlesbrough FC of Robbie Keane, Jonathan Woodgate (Head Coach), Leo Percovich and Danny Coyne during a photocall. Tom Banks/MFC/PA Wire.
Handout photo dated 14/06/2019 provided by Middlesbrough FC of Robbie Keane, Jonathan Woodgate (Head Coach), Leo Percovich and Danny Coyne during a photocall. Tom Banks/MFC/PA Wire.

Damian Spellman

Jonathan Woodgate is planning to follow in the footsteps of England boss Gareth Southgate as he launches his managerial career at home-town club Middlesbrough.

The 39-year-old has been appointed as Boro's head coach on a three-year contract after chairman Steve Gibson, as he has done in the past with Bryan Robson, Steve McClaren, Southgate and Aitor Karanka, handed the reins to a first-time boss.

Southgate and McClaren have since both gone on to manage England, while Robson presided over the club's first Premier League adventure and Karanka guided the Teessiders back into the top flight in 2016.

Asked if he too could use his time at the Riverside Stadium as a launchpad, Woodgate said: "Those managers have had great success and been incredible managers, especially Gareth, who has gone on to be England manager and has done an unbelievable job.

"Listen, this is the start of my pathway and hopefully it builds up like that."

Gibson appointed former defender Woodgate, who made a total of 112 appearances for the club during a glittering career which also took him to Leeds, Newcastle, Real Madrid, Tottenham and Stoke, after a lengthy interview process in which the Teessider proved impressive.

Asked what he had seen in Woodgate which he had also observed in some of his predecessors, the chairman said: "Basically the same qualities I saw in the others, a real determination, and great football history.

"If you look at Bryan, Captain Marvel of England, Aitor, three Champions Leagues, Steve McClaren won the Treble with Manchester United as a coach - they were all big, big, strong football people and Jonathan is that.

"He's a character, he's his own man, he knows what he wants. He's the one in the dressing room while he's been here to always say what he thinks.

"I see a lot of qualities in Jonathan and I think he could be one for now, one for next year and certainly one for the future, and I'm prepared to back that by giving him the job."

Woodgate, who has drafted in Robbie Keane, Leo Percovich and Danny Coyne as his coaching staff, has been handed the task of establishing a "golden thread" which runs through the club's age groups and has vowed to bring an attacking philosophy to the first team which was largely absent as Boro missed out on the play-offs last season.

The new head coach, who worked under the likes of David O'Leary, Sir Bobby Robson, Terry Venables and Harry Redknapp during his playing days, said: "I want to win games scoring goals. If you look at this league now, you go up by scoring goals. If you don't, you won't go up.

"If you look at my backroom team - Leo, Danny and Robbie - we'll have that in abundance, especially with Robbie by my side.

"Can you imagine the young players at this football club learning from Robbie Keane?"

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