Boro chief Woodgate preparing for an 'open and expansive' Luton side

New Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate with former manager Tony Pulis
New Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate with former manager Tony Pulis

Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate is expecting to face an ‘open and expansive’ Luton side at Kenilworth Road in the Championship opener this season.

The former England, Boro and Real Madrid defender, who like Town chief Graeme Jones, is in his first managerial role, appointed recently after Tony Pulis was sacked, believes that is the way his counterpart will line up.

Speaking to the club’s official website, Woodgate, who was first team coach under Pulis, said: “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.

“I’ve met Graeme once, and had a good chat with him after the West Brom game last season.

“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.

“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.”

Meanwhile, Luton chief Jones knows that Boro will be something of an unknown quantity under Woodgate.

He said: “The difficulty will be knowing exactly how Jonathan is going to play, because he’s inherited a group from Tony Pulis and Tony had a clear identity.

"You knew what was coming.

“Whether Jonathan goes with that, or changes it, we’ll have to wait and see.

"But I don’t think you can ask for any more than a home game on the opening day of the season.”

Woodgate wasn’t placing any extra significance on the opening clash at Kenilworth Road either, ahead of what will be a gruelling Championship campaign, as he added: “To be honest, I treat them all the same.

“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.”