Venus set to remain in place at Blackburn - as Woodgate insists the caretaker is his own man (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Venus set to remain in place at Blackburn - as Woodgate insists the caretaker is his own man
MARK VENUS is set to be in charge of Middlesbrough when they travel to Blackburn Rovers this weekend, with Jonathan Woodgate insisting the caretaker manager should not be regarded as a clone of his former boss, Tony Mowbray.
Venus, who presided over a first-team debriefing session at Boro's Rockliffe Park training ground this weekend, has been instructed to continue carrying out his managerial duties until told otherwise, and with Friday's emphatic win over Doncaster having boosted morale, chairman Steve Gibson is extremely unlikely to change things ahead of the trip to Ewood Park.
Aitor Karanka, who was formerly Jose Mourinho's number two at Real Madrid, was linked with the Middlesbrough job in the Spanish press at the weekend, and Gibson has indicated a willingness to consider overseas candidates as he ponders who to appoint as Mowbray's permanent successor.
Friday's victory has strengthened Venus' hand though, and another strong display on Saturday would make it even more difficult to remove the boyhood Boro fan from his post.
The main criticism levelled at Venus is that he is too closely associated with the failures of the Mowbray regime, but Woodgate maintains it would be wrong to portray the duo as cut from the same cloth.
“Every man is different,” said the Middlesbrough skipper. “When you're an assistant manager, all you can do is work with the manager and give your opinion on things. But that doesn't necessarily mean the manager changes his mind because of what you're saying, and you don't have to agree with the manager when it comes to who's playing on a Saturday.
“Mark is his own man, and he showed that by his team selection. He wasn't afraid to make some difficult decisions, and he's different to the gaffer (Mowbray) in a lot of ways.”
By axing the likes of Frazer Richardson, George Friend, Dean Whitehead, Jacob Butterfield and Lukas Jutkiewicz on Friday night, Venus underlined his willingness to make marked changes from the mindset that prevailed under Mowbray.
Tactically, there was also a major shift for the visit of Doncaster, with Venus switching to a 4-4-2 system and instructing his players to move the ball forward more quickly than they had been doing under their previous manager.
While Venus has spent his entire coaching career working alongside Mowbray, his footballing philosophy is much more pragmatic, and last week's decisiveness no doubt reflected, in part, a desire to be seen as different to what went before.
“He has to give it a shot, doesn't he,” said Woodgate. “He doesn't know how long he's got – he could have one game, two games or one or two years. He doesn't know what's going to happen in the future, so he just has to run the club how he thinks it should be run.
“That's what he's doing at the minute, and that's why he made the changes he made. He's got a shot at this, so he wants to go and give it the best chance he's got.”
Friday's victory was Boro's biggest of the season, and while the weekend results sent the Teessiders back into the bottom half of the table, they are only eight points off the play-off places despite their early-season struggles.
If the likes of Marvin Emnes, Mustapha Carayol and Albert Adomah can maintain the standards they set on Friday evening, there is no reason why Boro cannot thrust themselves back into the promotion mix in the matches that remain.
However, given that the previous game saw the concession of three first-half goals at Barnsley, Woodgate admits it would be wrong to get too carried away on the back of one performance.
“Let's not be daft.” he said. “We've just won 4-0, but we've got a long season to go. We haven't got out of the woods yet. We're still an average team, but we know we can be a lot better. At the minute, we're average. But we can get better.
“There's often a response when a new manager comes in, so let's not get carried away yet. We've just won one game, and in a lot of the other games, we haven't been good enough.
“We've lost and drawn games when we should have won. Let's not get carried away by what happened on Friday – let's see where we are after another ten games. That'll be the test.”
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