We asked a Middlesbrough writer what Sheffield Wednesday fans should expect ahead of Saturday's clash

Garry Monk returns to his old stomping ground on Saturday with a point to prove as Sheffield Wednesday make the trip to Middlesbrough.

Thursday, 26th September 2019, 11:31 am
Updated Thursday, 26th September 2019, 11:31 am
Garry Monk returns to the Riverside this weekend having endured a turbulent short-term reign at Boro.
Garry Monk returns to the Riverside this weekend having endured a turbulent short-term reign at Boro.

The Wednesday manager spent six months at the Riverside before he was sacked in December 2018 after an impressive 2-1 win over his new club at Hillsborough.

‘Boro, under the new management of former player Jonathan Woodgate, are sat in the bottom half of the table in what has been an up and down start to a new era on Teesside. But what should Wednesday fans expect from the men in red? We asked Joe Nicholson, Boro writer for the Hartlepool Mail, for the inside track.

Boro have had a mixed start to life under Jonathan Woodgate. Hows the season going?

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Boro have played well in patches this season but haven't quite found the right balance over 90 minutes yet.

The entertaining draws at Luton and Bristol City, which finished 3-3 and 2-2 respectively, suited the way Woodgate wants to play, and his side should have won both those games.

However, Boro's two wins this season, against Wigan and Reading at home, both ended 1-0 when the side had to stay compact at the back.

Like so many others, the club have had to tighten their belts after years of big-spending. Is there a sense that this is a new era for Boro?

Yes, definitely.

Woodgate signed a couple of players in the summer but has said the club can no longer spend £5-10million on a player.

Unlike last season, few expect Boro to finish in the play-offs this term but they won't anticipate a relegation battle either.

If the side can finish in mid-table and show signs they are improving under Woodgate, it would represent a good season.

Who have been the stand-out players so far?

Paddy McNair has looked like a player transformed this season after moving back into midfield.

The 24-year-old barely played under previous boss Tony Pulis but has the ability to make powerful and probing runs with the ball.

Excluding his own goal at Cardiff last week, Ashley Fletcher has also made a decent start to the campaign while goalkeeper Darren Randolph has also produced a couple of standout performances.

What style of play should Wednesday expect from Woodgate's Boro?

Woodgate has predominantly deployed a 4-3-3 formation this season but switched to a 3-5-2 system at Cardiff last weekend.

The latter is a formation he's used at home when Boro are 1-0 up and trying to defend a lead but this was the first time he's used it from the start.

Woodgate's principles remained the same, though, he wants his side to pass out from the back where possible and his forward players to press high up the pitch.

Against Cardiff, though, Boro gave the ball away too often and failed to register a single shot on target.

It's still a work in progress.

It's the return of Garry Monk - how is he thought of at Boro? What sort of reception should he expect?

Boro fans probably have mixed views on Monk, he wasn't at the club very long but the club spent a lot of money when he was there.

The recent reports concerning Monk's agent, as well as Boro's recent cost cutting, won't have enhanced his reputation.