Written by Toby Foster @TobyFost
AFC Bournemouth caretaker manager Jonathan Woodgate has vowed to “give it absolutely everything I’ve got” ahead of his first match in charge of the Cherries.
The 41-year-old, who has previously managed Middlesbrough, was appointed first-team coach under his predecessor Jason Tindall on Monday – but took the reins as caretaker boss two days later following Tindall’s sacking.
Relegation-threatened Birmingham City visit the Vitality Stadium on Saturday as sixth-placed Bournemouth look to stop the rot after four consecutive league defeats.
And Woodgate – who made appearances for England, Real Madrid and Tottenham in an illustrious playing career – was upbeat about the likelihood of the Cherries returning to winning ways.
“I think when you lose four games on the spin… [losing some confidence] does happen. But then the players can rebound back quite easily”, Woodgate told Nerve Sport.
“It’s a fresh start.”
“I’ve got the job for this game on Saturday, so I’ll do my best… to try and instil a bit of confidence into them.
“They’re a good set of players. The ability doesn’t go overnight, so they should be confident for this game, hopefully.”
Woodgate expressed surprise at becoming temporary Bournemouth manager so quickly after arriving at the club.
“I didn’t think anything like this would happen so early”, he said.
“I’ve been involved with twenty-five managers in my career, and I know it’s a cut-throat business, but I didn’t think it was going to be that early.”
The new caretaker boss remained mindful of the upheaval the Cherries have faced in recent months, following relegation from the Premier League and two managerial departures.
He said: “This club has been used to stability with Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall in charge, and now two managers have gone in the space of six months, so it’s something the players aren’t used to.
“It hasn’t been easy. But what I would say is, the players and the staff who are behind me have been really, really good. They understand it’s a difficult situation to be in.
“I’ll give absolutely everything I’ve got.”
The interim manager said he would be trying to keep his instructions straightforward for the side taking on Birmingham City this weekend.
“You can give them plans but then you don’t overcomplicate it”, he explained.
“You don’t want to give them too much because it can baffle their minds.
“What I do know is that this bunch of players is a real talented bunch. You’ve got some exceptional players in the team. We need to put it together and make a team out of the exceptional players.”
Woodgate expressed a desire to develop “leaders” in the “young squad” as the Cherries try to remain in the hunt for the automatic promotion places.
“I think as these players start maturing, they’ll start becoming leaders. It’s always the case. When you’re younger, you’re not always a leader, but you start growing”, he said.
“It’s up to us to try and bring it out of them, and the senior pros here, like Cookie [Steve Cook], like Asmir [Begovic] – they can bring it out of these players, and I think that’s really important moving forward.”
Woodgate revealed that he would potentially be without two Cherries stars for his first game in charge, as the club are “waiting on news from a scan result” on striker Dominic Solanke, while Junior Stanislas has “got a bit of an ankle problem” and has a “60:40” chance of being available.
AFC Bournemouth face Birmingham City at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday 6th February at 3pm.