Jonathan Woodgate is already looking forward to the season’s kick-off after it was revealed that a trip to Luton Town will be our new head coach’s debut in the dugout.
The game pits Boro’s boss against another new appointment, with Woodgate’s opposite number Graeme Jones also having cut his coaching teeth in our Academy.
“It’s a really good test for us on the day, and their fans are going to be really up for it. We’ll have a strong travelling support and it’s live on Sky"Jonathan Woodgate
“I’ve met Graeme once, and had a good chat with him after the West Brom game last season,” Woodgate said.
“He seems a really good fella. It’s Graeme’s first job as a manager as well and I have no doubt he’ll be successful.
“It’s a really good test for us on the day, and their fans are going to be really up for it. We’ll have a strong travelling support and it’s live on Sky which makes it even better.
“I’d expect Luton to play an open, expansive game because that’s what Graeme knows and that’s what he’s good at.
“With it being the first game of the season and live on the TV, no doubt people will be looking to see how we approach it as well.”
Looking further down the fixture list, Woodgate is taking a more holistic approach.
“To be honest, I treat them all the same,” he said.
“We have to play everyone twice and that’s how I look at it. We’re just looking forward to the season starting.
“The league’s very strong, especially with the teams that have come down from the Premier League - they’re going to have budgets that can attract good players.
“And there are a lot of other good teams in the division, especially those who just missed out last year, scrapping for it. Again, it’s a tough, tough league.
“I know a lot of teams having watched them last season, and the lads here who work in analysis know that even more than me.
“But styles will change, new players will come in so it’s important that we do our homework, take a good look at weaknesses and what they have going for them.”
Acknowledging the importance of hitting the ground running come August, Woodgate stressed that it’s a long game in the Championship campaign.
“We had a great start last season but you’ve got to maintain it,” he said.
“You don’t go up after the first five games. Look at Aston Villa - at one point last season they were 14 points behind us and they ended it by going up.
“You’ve got to bide time, stay patient if there are rocky patches, and in the end the aim is to get in amongst it all.”
“The players will be doing lots of different drills and the touch count will be through the roof - it’ll be all with the ball"Jonathan Woodgate
Woodgate can look forward to getting a good look at his squad when they report back to Rockliffe next week, and he offered a glimpse of what’s in store.
“There will be testing the first two days next week, and Wednesday the balls will be out.,” he said.
“The players will be doing lots of different drills and the touch count will be through the roof - it’ll be all with the ball.
“It’ll be tough, but as soon as soon as the lads come in I want to see expectation, work ethic, leaders in the group who will really come to the fore because as a head coach you really need that in the dressing room.
“It will be interesting to see - I’m sure they will all be bang up for it, because they should be, and we’re looking forward to it as well.”