The Middlesbrough Way – The Promised New Identity That Fans Should Feel Excited About

There can be few football fans who wouldn’t be thrilled to hear the following quote from their new manager…. “I want to preside over a team that plays attacking football with a high-energy pressing style. I want players to take risks when they have the ball and work their socks off to regain possession when they do not. I want a clear pathway from the Academy to the first team and will promote youth whenever I can.”

Jonathan Woodgate spoke those words at his first press conference and they are ideals that many of the people around me in the West Stand have voiced vociferously as the way things should have been throughout the Pulis reign but very definitely weren’t. Many of us longed to see more adventurous football where at least if we didn’t win we’d given it a really good go, but we were constantly disappointed at the lack of any form of adventure or excitement.

Jonathan Woodgate’s appointment has therefore been welcomed by those fans who see him as ‘one of us’ and a man who loves the club as much as we do. That’s why I simply don’t understand some of the comments that social media has aired from people who are obviously envious that a local lad has been given such a great opportunity. Even Robbie Mustoe in a recent interview was adamant that Steve Gibson should have gone for a more experienced manager. Like who, Robbie? Tony Pulis, Gordon Strachan or Garry Monk. I don’t think so!

No, we have instead a team who have all done it at the highest level but have not developed the fear that accompanies these ‘experienced managers’ who have already tasted both failure and the sack and are too frightened to experiment and adapt in case the same happens again. In Jonathan Woodgate, Robbie Keane and Danny Coyne we have instead a young team with fresh ideas and a determination to provide both entertainment and success for ‘Boro fans to enjoy and support. There are no guarantees, of course, and the Championship remains an absolute minefield for every manager, not just the new and inexperienced ones. But we must give them every chance and every ‘Boro fan worthy of the name should back them not only with their full support but also a degree of patience while the players adapt to what will thankfully be a completely different approach to last year’s boring, defensive and ultimately unsuccessful playing style.


That this new approach is to be reflected throughout the club with every team from the under fifteens upwards destined to play a similar style so that ‘The Middlesbrough Way’ will come to mean something and give all our teams a recognisable identity is to be applauded. Ironically, it’s also the way Gareth Southgate is organising the England set-up so that whoever is promoted is already familiar with the style of play expected of them.

As for the knockers on social media, you are not fans so keep your stupid and pessimistic comments to yourself until the time when you will hopefully have to admit you were wrong and start to offer the kind of support the team and management deserve.

I, for one, can only wait with enormous excitement for the start of the new season. It certainly won’t be dull!

by J.M.