While I have to confess to a degree of excitement for the start of the new season and the promise of attacking, expansive football there are currently too many similarities to the start of the last couple of seasons where the confidence of the manager has failed to live up to the actual results. I love Jonathan Woodgate’s attitude that we are to see a completely different style of football but since that is tempered with the promise that even if results go against us he will insist we maintain that playing style regardless suggests even he is not totally convinced it will work. A fairly mixed bag of both results and performances pre-season hasn’t really given us any indication of what we can expect to see – or indeed what his starting eleven is likely to be – so at the moment we can only wonder.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Jonathan’s reign so far is that with nine days to go before our first game at Luton we have so far failed to sign anyone – or indeed move on the people we think need moving on. We even have the same old ‘Will he, won’t he, does he, doesn’t he’ scenario of Martin Braithwaite. We’ve seen over the last couple of years that with the right attitude he’s a decided asset, but past history makes that very ‘iffy’ indeed. And then there’s the most frightening doubt concerning Darren Randolph’s future because he was our saviour on so many occasions last season.
Conversely, it was great to see Britt Assombalonga come back with a hat trick at Salford, but once again the question arises that will the main importance of that be to his suitors and will he be snapped up in the next few days?
As a life-long ‘Boro fan – and therefore the supreme optimist you have to be – I’m afraid at this stage all we have is a lot of talk and the recent memory of a 5-1 beating in Germany so I’m not sure whether my optimism is well founded. I am, however, still convinced that Jonathan’s appointment was a good one and that eventually he’ll come up with the goods. The team he has around him brings a lot to the table and I’m sure that given time they will indeed produce the promised excitement on the pitch.
The first true indications for the new season won’t manifest themselves until that first game at Luton, but our Friday night history has been impressive so it’s going to be very interesting indeed. A newly promoted side will bring huge enthusiasm and hard work to the game and overcoming that will not be easy on their own ground where the support is set to be just as difficult to overcome. An exciting away win would be a wonderful start to both the season and Jonathan’s managerial career. Here’s hoping the signs are good and we can continue to enjoy a totally new brand of football throughout the season.
I hope you all enjoy it!