Why Middlesbrough should replace Jonathan Woodgate with Neil Warnock
According to a report from The Sun (h/t Wales Online), Middlesbrough are weighing up a shock swoop for former Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock as a replacement for Jonathan Woodgate, who has come under scrutiny for the Teessiders’ dismal run of form in the Championship.
As per the report, the 71-year-old hasn’t ruled out an immediate return to management just yet but he is willing to bide his time and carefully weigh up his options before making his next move, with the season now set to enter the busy festive period heading into the January transfer window.
Warnock, who previously suffered relegation from the Premier League with Sheffield United at the end of the 2006-07 season, couldn’t help Cardiff City beat the drop in the top-flight last term.
Despite that, however, his three-year stint at South Wales proved to be a fruitful one, with the veteran old-school manager taking the Bluebirds from the depths of the Championship to the heights of the Premier League.
Meanwhile, Middlesbrough currently find themselves languishing at 19th place in the standings following a nightmarish start to life under Jonathan Woodgate, who has managed to guide the Teessiders to only 4 wins in 20 games so far since taking over the reins from Tony Pulis back in the summer.
Unsurprisingly, such a poor streak of results has put Woodgate’s position at the Riverside Stadium under some serious scrutiny heading into the crunch Christmas period, with the ignominy of relegation to League One starting to loom large.
To put things into perspective, Middlesbrough need to find a way to turn things around quickly if they are really serious about beating the drop in the Championship this term and the club’s links with Neil Warnock certainly makes a lot of sense in that regard.
In fairness to Woodgate, he hasn’t done a bad job since taking charge at Teesside despite the club’s terrible start to the season. Under Tony Pulis, Boro played a brand of football that wasn’t pleasing to the eye and Woodgate has certainly brought about a massive change in that regard.
Indeed, Middlesbrough have tried to play a more attractive brand of football under Woodgate, who has also sparked a notable shift in the club’s transfer model with respect to bringing in young and developing players in the summer.
As evident from the arrival of youngsters like Marc Bola, Marcus Browne and Anfrenee Dijksteel back in the summer window, as well as the promotion of academy talents like Hayden Coulson and Stephen Walker to the first-team ranks, Woodgate has made a genuine attempt to start a long-term project for the betterment of the club’s future.
With that in mind, however, he hasn’t been able to deliver the results so far and while one might argue that pulling the trigger on him so early might not be the best idea, Boro certainly need to bear in mind that they are currently struggling for survival in the Championship.
That is a massive disappointment and represents a significant fall in grace for a club that was a competent mid-table outfit in the Premier League just a decade ago.
Playing an attractive brand of football is fair enough but they just can’t afford to do away with results, which is ultimately the most important thing for any club in any division.
There is hardly anyone better than Neil Warnock when it comes to extracting the best out of the existing players in the squad, and the 71-year-old is certainly head and shoulders above someone like Woodgate in terms of managerial experience at this level.
Given his previous exploits in steering several teams to safety in the Championship over the years, Warnock could well be a reliable short-term option for Middlesbrough, who are in dire need of a change at the helm of affairs to spark a turnaround of fortunes.
With almost half the season done and dusted, time is running out at the Riverside Stadium and the club hierarchy would be wise enough to look at a tried and tested managerial option like Warnock, who could ensure another season of Championship football for them.
Keeping in mind that Warnock would have to evaluate his squad and make some changes to the system imposed by Woodgate in order to get Boro’s campaign back on track, December might be the right time for the club to appoint the 71-year-old, with just enough time left to run before the transfer window reopens in January.
According to the Mirror in November, Warnock is planning to retire from professional management at the end of the ongoing campaign, meaning that he would only be a short-term fix for Boro should they opt to bring him in.
However, survival in the Championship should be a top priority at this moment and the veteran certainly has the charisma to charge the players up on the training ground and spark a significant turnaround of results in the coming months.
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Having said that, Neil Warnock could well be the saviour that Boro need to save themselves from the ignominy of a horror season in the Championship.