Time is running out for Boro and Woodgate
Boro made it ten games without victory after pathetically throwing away a 2-0 half-time lead at home to Hull City, a result which lifts them out of the relegation zone, however only by goal difference.
Woodgate's side were magnificent for the first 20 minutes of the game and the second goal, in particular, showed the quality that the squad does possess in the final third with terrific link-up play from Britt Assombalonga and Ashely Fletcher.
Marvin Johnson then, stupidly, got himself sent off and Boro capitulated. Fletcher made away at half-time for Adam Clayton and Boro sat back for the second half, inviting pressure and inviting the creativity of Jarred Bowen and Kamil Grosicki to come at them.
Once the first went in, an equaliser felt inevitable. After Bowen equalised for the Tigers, there was only one time that looked like winning and it wasn't the home side.
Yes, Johnson's dismissal was catastrophic, but the result ultimately falls to Woodgate.
As head coach, he is paid to make decisions to win football matches.
That failed against Hull. Boro don't have the sort of defensive solidity to defend a 2-0 lead with 10 men for 45 minutes. Removing Fletcher left Assombalonga isolated and his frustrations were clear as the second half progressed.
Tavernier filled in at left-back, with Woodgate claiming later that Hayden Coulson and Marc Bola – the two left-backs on the bench – were too attacking to come on. That is ridiculous.
Tavernier is an attacking midfielder. It's not a coincidence that the two Hull goals came from Bowen, attacking Boro's left. That's not a criticism of Tavernier but a specialist left-back should have come on when Johnson was sent off.
That's on Woodgate. And his claim after that Coulson and Bola weren't the best options because they're attacking full-backs is up there with his 'the table is lying' comments. They are made by a man who is stuck and doesn't know what to do. Not encouraging from the manager of a struggling football club.
Playing Hull and Barnsley was a big opportunity for 6 crucial points before games against the sides in the top six of the division afterwards. They have now failed at the first hurdle.
A win over Barnsley is now essential. If Boro come away with that without a win, then serious questions will then have to be asked as the games only get harder after that.
And ultimately, Woodgate has to improve his decisions during the game.
- Is Britt Assombalonga’s time at Middlesbrough coming to an end?
- Lewis Wing’s future at Middlesbrough uncertain
His decisions and substitutions, along with Johnson's red card, cost Boro 3 valuable points, and he must improve if his 'project' is to work.