Is Woodgate A Crock?

“HE”S A CROCK!” That was the instinctive cry of the Chickern Runners as Boro’s £7m new boy put pen to paper and set his sights – somewhat optimistically it must be said – on taking his home town club into the Champions League.
But is he a crock? The perception is that Woodgate struggles to get through games, can’t play two games a week, needs to be rested before the big ones and that his fitness record has put off the big boys from signing an otherwise excellent player. The facts suggest that he played more games than the injury prone defenders of the Premiership elite.


Woodgate didn’t arrive until three games into the season (incidentally three games that contributed eight goals to Boro’s -7 goal difference) and since them has played 27 games out of 35. He was rested against Manchester City (and there’s another two to the negative tally) so in all he has been unavailable for just seven games. He is far from being an ever present but it is hardly a scene of carnage from Casualty.
That number of games puts him right up at the top when it comes to defensive appearances. Hard though it may be to comprehend looking through a prism of pessimistic fatalism, other top defenders also miss games. With all that streching to block, making crunching tackles and putting their heads in where it hurts iinjuries are inevitable and with the rules being tightened so that virtually all contact earns a booking they spend a lot of time suspended too.
Yet Woodgate’s strong suit is his positional sense and uncanny ability to read the game and anticipate how a move will unfold. That means he rarely need to make a tackle – and almost never a rash one – so he reduces his risk from injuries sustained in tackles and cuts down the prospect of cautions. He has picked up just two yellow cards all season which for a central defender is no mean feat.
Woodgate then has played in 27 league games – and of the entire defensive units of the big four only Ferdinand (32), Toure (32), Carvalho (30) and Finnan (30) have played more Premiership games and only Riise matches that tally. The rest of the collection of walking wounded and serial suspendees are well behind. At United Neville and Vidic have only played 24, Evra 20, and perma-crock Heinze has only managed 13; Chelsea part-timers Ashley Cole (21), Ferriera (15) and Bridge (13) have been in and out while even Terry – who no one would suggest is injury prone – has only played 23. At Arsenal Clichy (25) and Eboue (20) are well ahead of string of makeshift defenders and at Liverpool Agger and Hyppia have only played 21 games.
Yes, those teams also have European commitments and make well have a de facto rotation policy and Liverpool are contractually obliged to make five changes a game – but not so much that their Premiership career is put on a part-time basis.
And yes, Woodgate needs to be handled with kid gloves and spends most of the day after a match being massaged and stretching to prevent stiffening. He is not alone in that. And that pre-dates his one serious injury at Real Madrid anyway and was a feature of his training regime at Leeds and Newcastle. We have seen this season that regime is effective. Who cares if he doesn’t do doggies and cross country all day so long as he can put in silky, understated performances based on intelligence and experience rather than superhuman athleticism?
To suggest Woodgate is a crock doesn’t stand up. He has had one big injury. But at Boro he missed a few games with a deadleg then a few more when he tweaked a knee training with England but that hardly makes him Malcolm Christie. Plenty of quality defenders miss more games a season through suspension than that. It is not ideal because Boro missed him badly when he was out but neither does not raise dark imminent fears that the club will be cashing ion on the insurance money.
If he plays the last three he will clock up 30 games. At £7m that may not make him a bargain just yet but if that ‘injury’ record is continued over the duration of the contract then it will represent a decent return on the investment. Now we just need to get Boro’s million-pound-a-game defender Robert Huth up and running too and we are are in business.

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26 thoughts on “Is Woodgate A Crock?

  1. Time will tell I suppose as he gets older.
    Might be like gazza who as he reached 30 he picks up more knocks and takes longer to recover.
    Its great the number of games he has played at boro but keeping it up for another season we shall see. At a big club they can rest players easily. At boro he is such an important player that we cant afford to rest him.
    Might depend on how good the midfield infront of him is next season defensivly

  2. His injury record prior to joining Boro is the only major cloud on the horizon with this deal.
    However, this season has demonstrated that perhaps the worst of his injuries are over and any missed games will be kept to a mimimum.
    The training staff at the club deserve some credit for his relatively injury-free season. There has been mention of specific training regimes so as reduce the risk of injury and this has been proved to work. (Oh, and Hi, Tony)

  3. forgot to add that ferdinand and carvalho have played about 50 gams in all competitions this season.
    fact is chelsea and manutd will prioritise champions league games over league games sometimes as they can beat the bottom teams easier
    **AV writes: Yes, Rio has played 46, Carvalho 50. But the other defenders in those units have played nowhere near because they have all suffered niggling injuries that had it been Woodgate would have us all shouting ‘crock’.

  4. dont think many people have been calling him a crock this season. just hope he can keep it up.
    woodgates only played 168 league games and is 27 so hopefully he can sustain 30+league game into the next 4 seasons. Hopfully it’s not a situation like viduka’s cant play 2 games in a week

  5. It makes sense for Woodgate to sign for a team who will not be playing European football. Too much football is what will consign Jonny to the physios bench again.
    Boro get will do well to get 25 games out of him in a season. Having said that he is a great player when fit and will be a superb signing if Boro get that amount of games out of him.

  6. Just heard today that boro will play in a tournament in korea in the summer. I bet the cynics will say we bought dong gook lee for financial reasons

  7. On this seasons evidence, there seems no reason why Woody will not be able to play one game a week, every week next season.
    Huth, Riggott (hopefully a good pre-season will see them both fully fit again), Pogo and Wheater will make able deputies if Woodgate needs to be rested for the odd game.
    Nice to see that Alf is being as positive as ever.

  8. I’m not sure Riggott will stay. I can’t imagine him being happy at being fourth choice centre half.
    Davies, Wheater et al can fill that role.
    Despite a few dodgy performances, Riggott is good enough to be a first teamer at a club bottom half of prem/top of championship. It just won’t be at the boro.

  9. riggot is off to sunderland or derby for £2m so i have been told.
    2 from 3 will be sold-wheater,davies and bates

  10. Alf is a Mackem is disguise.
    Anyhow, I hope he’s right about Davies leaving as the guy is far from Premeiership class and constantly costs us points. I’m not impressed by Bates either. Wheater deserves a chance though. As for Riggot, I guess 2 million is a decent price for our fourth choice.
    Anyway, Woodie is a great buy. Sean Wright Philips and a cheap sqauad player or two and we’ll be sorted. Just don;t want to see us waste 2 million here, 2 million there when SWP would give us the flanks of death.

  11. Not sure where the 25 games a season comes from for Woodgate, he’s already played 30 odd. I was really pleased to see he’d signed because without him (eg Citeh) we were a complete shambles at the back.
    Anyroad, to be positive, I like Southgate and I’m glad Woodgate decided to come out of the closet early if only to deflect press ‘speculation’ (euphemism for prevarication)that that he was going to sign for Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, AC Milan, Scunthorpe or Hartlepool and further diminish Boro’s stock.

  12. Alf
    It is no secret in Derby that Riggott is a lifelong Derby fan. Wouldnt be surprised to see him go back because Derby could do with some class at the back.
    We used to laugh and joke that even when he was on the treatment table he was voted man of the match by the local paper.
    As for Woodie signing on it is great news. For those who say it isnt a new signing I would recommend you consider the effect if he left.

  13. AV
    How about a blog about West ham having a huge fine instaed of apoints deduction because they are in a relegation battle. Im not bitter and twisted but!!!! Many of us are still not fully clear what went on all those years ago so a recap would be great.
    Sorry to stick my nose into your blogs.
    **AV writes: I will put the boot into the two-faced spineless, duplicitious creeps at the Premier League big style once I have calmed down a bit and stopped spitting blood and swearing.

  14. Im pleased Woody has decided to stay, hes been excellent in the majority of games hes played for us this year.
    I was, however, disguisted reading a couple of national newspapers saying that they were shocked by him deciding to stay and pretty much slating Middlesbrough as a place.
    Ok, its an industrial area and its not the most affluent of places, but I love it. Ive moved around the country a lot in my past, but my heart always stayed in Boro and I came back home, and Im sure this was a factor in him deciding to stay.
    Manchester United are, arguably, the biggest club in the world, yet Manchester has deprived areas in Moss Side, Clayton and Openshaw, and Liverpool, the team with probably the best history in the world, has deprived areas such as Toxteth and Croxteth.
    I never heard any of these national newspaper reporters slating Steven Gerrard for wanting to stay with him home town club, or Alan Shearer when he turned down Man Utd to sign for the barcodes. As the old saying goes, home is where the heart is!
    Anyway, enough of my rant about that.
    I just hope that wasn’t GS’ whole transfer treasure chest for the summer and he is given more funds to strengthen other areas of the team.
    Last close season we only signed Huth and Arca of note, but were linked with a whole host of other signings, which indicated we had more to spend. I hope this has been carried over and added to.
    Im quite optimistic about next season, I dont think we will be pulled into the relegation fight like we were this season anyway. I would be happy with a bit of stability next season, along with a good cup run.
    Im not an overly optimistic Boro supporter, Im just a realist. We wont challenge the top 4, but we wont be challenging the bottom 3 either.

  15. Well after watching yesterdays game i think our defence needs sorting and looks like woodgate isnt going to make any difference.
    Who was marking keane for his 2nd? who was marking berbetov for his goal? also why did the centre back let keane break out and nearly score but just went wide of schwarzers goals?
    woodgate was at fault for manutd’s goals and was at fault for some villa goals. that’s 6 goals conceded at home in 2 game against average teasm in villa and spurs. i reckon we need a couple of defenders to come in and get rid of some.
    i think southgate’s mclaren type tacics of playing 3 defensive midfielders was a mistake he should have had johnson and/or arca on from the start. this is spurs we are playing and not manutd or chelsea where we play for a point.
    having 3 defensive midfielders meand that downing is your only outlet. so if he isnt playing well we are stuck. we are too predictable and need more attacking options.

  16. Just when you think that the team, manager and coaches can’t get more unprofessional and slipshod, they go and prove you wrong!
    Now we’re stuck, as I’ve been predicting for months, (beat Spurs, Never Happy?) with 2 games against 2 desperate sides to avoid getting sucked into the drop ourselves.
    Given our lot, our away form and our form against other poor sides, chances are we’ll get nothing at Wigan and be going into the last game of the season with a ‘them or us’ against Fulham.
    Our best hope – and what an indictment – is that one of the others who can overtake us (everyone except Watford and Charlton) stumbles in a way which doesn’t look likely and saves us from ourselves.
    Fancy us in that situation? Me neither. Maybe Woody signed too soon.
    The more one sees the evidence on the pitch – and given that individuals, teams and organisations tend to be very consistent in what they do and how they do it – the more I believe what Tony Black tells us about the unprofessional behaviour off it, the lack of fitness, the poor coaching, ill-discipline and lack of motivation; self- or stimulated by the manager.
    If Gate and the others can’t address this in a full season and they’re going to stay then they need to get someone who can and will.
    Pathetic. Maybe Mr. Lamb and Gibbo will drop the season ticket prices in the Championship.

  17. “I will put the boot into the two-faced spineless, duplicitious creeps at the Premier League big style once I have calmed down a bit and stopped spitting blood and swearing.”
    (cough cough) Ahem, I am with you on 100% on this.
    As much as enjoyed seeing your pokey, no mark, never win nowt little football club getting demoted because of the points deduction, I think it is disgraceful that Wet Spam have got away with this. I hope they do a dirty Leeds and get relegated down to Division 1.
    (See, I can be nice and sensible!)

  18. Woodgate signing is superb business for Boro he is one of the top 3/4 English centre backs and the fact he wants to stay is a huge coup.
    Anyone who says he is staying because he’s not wanted anywhere else because he’s a crock is a fool.
    Next seaon we will have the potential to field two centre backs who are current English and German centre backs, that’s impressive in anyones book.
    The spurs result was disapointing but unlike JP I don’t think its cause for sacking the mangager/coaches. Clearly there is a problem to solve but GS needs to be given the opportunity to do it.
    Given that Boro always finish around 14th in the prem. what we are actually seeing is an average Boro season.
    What I hope to see next season is Boro finishing somewhere around 8th-10th (actually I’d like to see them finish 1st, but reallistically…). That would be progress which would only require a few more points than we will achieve this season.
    To all those who believe we will be relegated on 40 points no matter how I ‘fix’ the BBC predictor I can’t make it happen.
    My guess is Fulham will go down.

  19. John – you were right about Spurs and as per usual my predictions went pear shaped.
    However Boro will stay up even if they get no more points.
    Sheff U v Wigan on the final day of the season will ensure that one of them 2 clubs do not get over 40 points.
    Diablo the glory hunter – you were a bit quiet after our pokey little club played your adopted scum off the park last week.
    AV – If West Ham had already been relegated the PL without doubt would have deducted points from them.
    I was talking to a physio who has close ties to the club, who basically confirmed what TB has posted on numerous occasions about the training regime, or lack of it.
    He also confirmed that the ‘booze culture’ at the club, which several players who have left have talked about, still exists big time.
    I have no reason to doubt what I was told (also told by someone else that he saw a large number of the squad out after the Man U game).
    Everyone deserves a night out but surely professional athletes can drink in moderation or abstain during the league season.
    I support GS as the manager, but I do think that a director of football in the Bruce Rioch mode needs to be brought into the club to instill some rules and discipline

  20. Nigel
    If you were really sad I am sure you could manage to get us relegated on the predictor if you tried hard enough.
    It would however need freak results like Liverpool and ManU losing at home to Charlton and West Ham respectively plus a few others.
    The good news is that the Boro would also have to capitulate against teams who are in dire runs of poor form and cant get a point to save their lives (Wigan and Fulham). So thats reassuring isnt it.
    Truth is that it is possible for us to go down but highly unlikely.
    The great concern is the attitude within the squad that creates such a sloppy approach. It isnt anything new and unique to Gate’s reign, it was present before he took over. So far he hasnt managed to change that aspect of our game.
    It could be argued that it is because they are nervous at home but a look at our away record holes that theory well and truly under the waterline. It is the shear lack of tempo at the start of matches that is baffling.

  21. Never Happy, If you go to the Purple Onion on a Saturday night, all of your doubts will be gone regarding our players etc. You can even look on the website and see pictures of our players on pretty much every weekend listed!!
    Also, Ive spotted a few out down Yarm, usually the ones who live up this way. Im not going to name names, but if you visit the site, you can put the names to the faces

  22. Back to the woodgate topic..thats 9 goals conceded in the last 4 games with woodgate in the team.. 6 conceded in 2 home games

  23. Ian – I believe Boro’s poor performances at the beginning of a match are a hangocer from Macs ultra cautious approach, which they have not quite got out of their systems yet. Hopefully next season will be different…..
    I also think the squad has collectively got ‘end of seasonitis’ which does not reflect well on them.
    With regard to the current obsession with ‘Boro boozing’ the fact is if we were doing well it wouldn’t be mentioned and I doubt its different to any other club, not a big deal for the boys to be out on a Saturday evening on the pop as far as I’m concerned.
    Alf – don’t tell me you never wanted Woody to sign because you always knew he wasn’t good enough…..?

  24. He is good enough but i think people are assuming that he will solve our defensive problems. When he has played a lot of games we have still conceded. I thought the marking for some of spurs goals was shoddy and thats been the case for last 4 games or so. I just hope that its the end of season syndrome.

  25. Scott,
    end of last season we were conceding a lot of goals too. Southgate made the changes so i am hoping he makes the changes in defence.
    Its not organised enough, we need a shouter at the back to keep everyone in line. still a long way to go before it can be as good as under southgate and ugo.
    woodgate seems too laid back at times.i think its a bad habit he picked up from spain where the game is slower

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