Boro chairman Steve Gibson and head coach Jonathan Woodgate spoke to the written media yesterday. Here's the full transcript...
Steve, can you talk through the recruitment process and how heartening it’s been with the fact that you’ve had so much interest?
SG: We had a vast amount of interest and there was that much of it that the task of structuring it and turning it into something manageable was left to Adrian and Neil, and they’ve worked their socks off. They’ve flown all across Europe, 4am starts, midnight finishes, and that’s been ongoing for the last month. What we’ve done is whittled it down and whittled it down. We always had a preference for Jonathan and all things being equal, it was going to be Jonathan. But we felt we had a duty to find out what was in the market and test the market and to also show a care to those who had shown an interest in the club. There was that many of them, we made our way through, but all roads pointed at Jonathan.
It does seem to represent and everything that you’ve set up and talked about with Neil, Jonathan and Adrian that there’s a structure in place that will take the club in a slightly different direction.
SG: It’s got to be a different direction because we’ve spent so long out of the Premier League in the last decade. We’ve had one unsuccessful season in the Premier League, and I think the infrastructure at the club is right, we work our socks off but something isn’t right and that’s the discussion that we’ve had internally and there were ongoing discussions and we failed to find a solution. I hope this is the solution, but we’re going to have to be patient – this isn’t going to be at a touch of a light switch and it works. It’s going to be lots of hard work, lots of grit and we’re going to have some ups and downs but we’re going to have to be patient. We talked earlier about bringing this team together, they know each other very well, they know Leo well, they know Danny a little bit, but we’re going to need patience.
Adrian talked about a thread that runs through the club, all the age groups, is that something you feel, for whatever reason, has gone by the wayside a little bit?
SG: Partly the Academy system doesn’t help with that because you’ve got boxes you put into Under-16, U17 and we’re blessed to have Craig who’s done an unbelievable job. He’s followed in the footsteps of two giants in Dave Parnaby and Ron Bone, but it’s been seamless. We’re lucky enough to still have Dave Parnaby to have an eye on things and Ronnie Bone keeps in touch as well. We’re very pleased with that and as Jonathan has said, he knows everyone from 12 right the way through and that thread is there and we want that to continue. That was not me promoting that, that was Jonathan.
Jonathan, when you were a young player at Leeds 20 years ago, did you ever think you were going to be a manager?
JW: No, not really. When I was with Aitor Karanka, that was when I wanted to be a manager because I saw how organised he was and the standards and structure he had to his game. You ask any 19-year-old the same question, they would say exactly the same.
What style of manager will you be? A disciplinarian?
JW: I’ll be a man manager, but I’ll have strong beliefs in keeping high standards. It’s as simple as that. If you’re late again like you were today, it will be exactly the same thing with the press conference, it will start bang on that time! It’s the same with my players, if they’re late the bus goes.
You worked under some great managers as a player and you’ll be your own man, but which manager in particular do you take the most from?
JW: I’ve mentioned Aitor Karanka, but David O’Leary was in the exactly same position as me – 39/40-year-old, got the job at Leeds, put young players in. What do we do: sink or swim? We swam. That’s what will happen. I won’t put them in willy nilly, but I will 100 per cent put a young player in if they’re better than that senior player, they will go in. What I’ve learned from other managers: Bobby Robson – man manager. Venebales – man manager. Harry Redknapp – man management. If you look at the teams I’ve played under, they’ve been quite attacking. At Spurs with Robbie, it was an attacking team. We had two on two situations with defenders and attackers, it was the same at Leeds. The managers I’ve all worked with have all helped me in different ways, bad and good.
And being at Real Madrid can stand you in good stead…
JW: Going to Real Madrid as a boy from Middlesbrough was unbelievable. I had a year there where I did a lot of thinking and grew up in that country because I had no one to fall back on. You grew in a massive way – you learn every day from the bigger players at that club and they were all humble. If you look at your Zinedine Zidane, your Ronaldos, David Beckham, Luis Figo, Raul – they were all humble guys and they all do stuff right. Their standards are bang on and that’s what this football club has to get back to.
A lot of managers your sort of age: Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard have gone into management, can you take heart from the job that Lampard did last season?
JW: He did a fantastic job and if you look at the job Steven Gerrard did as well, Lee Bowyer, Scott Parker – you need someone, like the chairman, who’s got a great desire to put these managers in who haven’t had the chance before. That’s what you need – a man who’s going to back you. That’s what we’ve got with our chairman and Frank’s done a great job at Derby and I hope he gets the Chelsea job, it will be great seeing an English in there in the Champions League.
I saw you talk about transfers with an interview with the club this morning and how it’s going to be a committee running forward, how do you see that?
JW: I’m a head coach, I’m not a manager. You can’t go from one system to another where one manager spends £20m, another spends £30m and they don’t like the players, you’re just going to be spending a lot of money and it’s not going to work. We will have a committee between us, the coaching staff will have a big say in it, myself, Adrian, Neil and the chairman will sit down and decide what’s right for the football club, if they’re the right age, do they fit the mould, do they fit the way we’re going to play and then we’ll come to a decision altogether. And that’s important moving forward.
Off the back of that Steve, was there a stage where you wanted to go in that direction?
SG: A committee is a wrong word, really. The game has changed so rapidly and the demands on the head coach and the football man… I’ve been here a long time and I go back to Bruce Rioch and Colin Todd with their backroom staff and that was it they would run everything. You can’t do that now and football is a lot more demanding. The pressure can be unfair at times and we’ve got to share that responsibility.
Is the loan market something you can tap into? You’ll have contacts in the Premier League, of course.
JW: We’ve got contacts at all different clubs, in Brazil, contacts all over the world, we’ve all played for some big clubs and we want to tap into that market. But again they’ve got to be the right player for the club, they’ve got to be the right age for the club and like I’ve said before, we can improve those players. We’ll have to sit down with those clubs and tell them what we want to do, tell them how we want to play.
Is this coaching team complete now? Liam Rosenior and Steve Round had both been mentioned, can you give us an update on those two?
JW: At the minute it’s Robbie, Danny and Leo, and we’ll look in the future to see if we need to add anything else.
Jonathan, can I take you back to when you found out Tony was leaving. Were you hoping that Steve would give you a call, were you thinking ‘I fancy this?’
JW: I never thought about it. I was gutted that Tony left. Like I said, he did a lot for me. The way he taught me and the lessons I learned from him were fantastic. I got the call from Adrian and Neil maybe ten days, two weeks later and gave them my presentation. I have a vision for the club going forward and I’d like to show you as well.
There are players that have been on the periphery for a while now, who have been out on loan for example. Have you already made decisions on some of them or is it a complete clean slate?
JW: It’s a clean slate. Obviously I’ll have a view when I see these players. I know what I like and what I want in a player. We’ll see, and I’ll obviously take the advice of my coaches on board. They are important people to me and I value their opinion. A few will have to come in later because they’re on international duty but when everyone’s in, we’ll have a look.
What’s the aim for this season? Is it to be in and around the play-offs, is that realistic?
JW: I have a personal aim. All my coaching staff would say exactly the same, we want to finish as high as possible. It’s as simple as that. I’m not one of the managers who wants to finish 12th and think ‘OK, yeah’, I want to be up there. I want to be amongst it. That’s how I look at it.
Are there any names in the youth ranks or just bubbling under who you think can be part of the club’s future?
JW: I don’t want to put too much pressure on the kids coming through. But we have players who can play in the first team.
Jonathan, you were part of the squad that won promotion in in 2015/16, how does this squad compare?
JW: With Aitor Karanka’s squad we had a strong spine with some really tough boys, some of them who are still in the dressing room now. We need to add a few more players to make it a success, a bit more pace. But Aitor did a brilliant job and if I can do the same then that’d be good.
How does it feel to be sat in that chair, with your suit and tie on and this responsibility?
JW: You can imagine! I’m proud as punch to be honest with you.
SG: The first thing he said to me this morning is ‘where’s your tie?’!
Pride for your family as well Jonathan?
JW: When I talk about my family, I talk about my Dad mainly. He’d be proud. It’s my son’s birthday as well today so I’ll remember it as long as I live.
Is he a Boro fan?
JW: He's everyone’s fan, he wants every kit going! But he’s a Boro fan. Hopefully he’ll be like me and love the club as much as I do.
How much of a selling job do you feel you’ll have to do with the supporters? You’ll have seen social media and the like.
JW: I don’t mind anyone having a view, it’s when it’s character assassination, digging and rumours. But you know what society can be like sometimes. The hardcore fans who really back you, and I’ve had some lovely messages as well. What has impressed me is that the whole club have been sending messages. The tea ladies, receptionists, the cleaners, they’re all over the moon and I’m delighted.
Steve, how much is this appointment about galvanising the fans?
SG: I don’t think we’re that disconnected from the fans, you always get an angry minority who are quite loud. But you know what you meet 100 people, 95 are fantastic, you get one or two you wouldn’t want to see again and three you’d avoid. That’s the same in all of life. I know from the people I've spoken to that they are delighted Jonathan has been appointed. I don’t know how well you know him, but you can detect the warmth he’s got and the affection, and the enthusiasm. If you could bottle it you’d sell a lot of it. Its just a passage of time for people to get to know him and this coaching staff. We’ve got some characters here, Big Leo, Danny, and this fella Robbie - we had dinner the other night and it took me two days to recover! I’m absolutely delighted to e able to pull this group together.
Jonathan, when you began speaking to the club, at what point did you start thinking about your coaching staff and put it into place?
JW: You’re constantly thinking about what you want. I didn’t know how much the club wanted my thoughts on who should be on the coaching staff. But I was clear who I wanted. We interviewed numerous people, not just the ones here, but I always wanted the three men I’ve got here, without a doubt.
You mentioned Robbie when you were talking earlier about young strikers, it’s such a boss for them isn’t it?
JW: It’s not just the strikers, it’s the whole club. The whole club will be over the moon.
SG: And the fans.
JW: If I was a fan, I’d be delighted to see that coaching staff coming in.
Have you spoken to any of your former managers before taking the job on?
JW: I haven’t to be honest with you. But I will be, because I’ll be tapping into them. I’m not the finished article, I’m making my pathway and they can pass on a lot of advice.
Is Gareth Southgate someone you might speak to, given that he once had this job?
JW: Of course. Gareth knows this club, this Chairman, and he’s done a fantastic job with England. I will look to get in touch at some point.
Steve, how do you see this summer going in terms of recruitment?
SG: I’d rather you ask me anything else because it’s the most complex and unpredictable thing in football at the moment. In the old days you’d ring up a player and do a deal. Nowadays players have two or three agents, the local vicar, the cat the dog. It’s never easy - what you wish for and what you get are two very different things and I don’t have a crystal ball to predict that. I think I know where Jonathan and his coaching staff think we’re short because we’ve had those discussions, we will work our socks off to bring in players but they have to be better than what we’ve got.
Balancing the books as well of course?
SG: Well everyone has to balance the books under FFP. I keep on banging the drum because it disrupts football, the way it has happened in the past three years. But let’s move away from that because that’s not what today is about.
Are you as excited about this Steve as any time with the club? You’ve had so many highs and lows with Boro.
SG: When you talk about highs and lows, that’s football. Unless you’re a Manchester City, a PSG, Barcelona or Bayern Munich, but that’s a bit boring being at one of them clubs. Winning all the time must be like losing all the time because it’s the same. Here we’ve got to work hard, the challenge is there, we’ve got to be cleverer than we’ve been. It’s when you’ve got that challenge with good people around you. You build a friendship, and that’s when you have good fun. We’re gonna have good fun this year and hopefully so are the fans, because that’s what Jonathan wants more than anything.
What are you going to be like when the fixtures arrive next week, Jonathan?
JW: Excited, really excited. There’s that many to look forward to as well isn’t there!