It is reported that Kevin Keegan is keen to make Jonathan Woodgate his first signing in his new spell as manager at Newcastle. There is little doubt that Newcastle need to strengthen their defence, but is Jonathan Woodgate the answer?
The 28 year-old centre half is reportedly unsettled at Middlesbrough, his hometown club, due to his inconsistent form. The one time certainty to be England’s main centre back for years to come has looked a shadow of the player he used to be this season.
Since leaving Middlesbrough for Leeds at the age of sixteen Woodgate has rarely been out of the news. Making his debut for Leeds at the age of seventeen he went on to play 104 games for them scoring 5 goals. His career took a downward turn when he was involved in the infamous disturbance outside a nightclub whereby an Asian youth was left with serious injuries. Despite being only one of many involved Woodgate was the only person convicted and was given community service for the offence of affray. The drawn out court case and all the publicity had a demoralising effect on the player.
In January 2003 Woodgate moved to Newcastle where he quickly established himself as a fans favourite with some excellent performances. Newcastle paid nine million pounds for him, but due to a serious injury they only saw him play 28 times for the club.
In August 2004 Real Madrid surprised the football world by taking him to Spain for 13.4 million pounds whilst he was still injured. He made no appearances in his first season with the Spanish giants and only 9 in total. In his debut for the club he scored an own goal and got sent off.
Last year in a poll on the website of Spain’s biggest selling daily sports newspaper Woodgate was voted the worst signing of the twenty-first century.
The centre back moved to Middlesbrough on loan in August 2006 and made the move permanent for seven million pounds in April last year. He has played 46 games for Boro.
Since leaving Leeds, in four seasons Woodgate has managed only 83 games and hasn’t scored. He was a great prospect but due to off the field problems and injury he has never developed into the player we all thought he would be. It would be great to see him flourish at a new club and get back into the England reckoning, but at the age of 28, with serious injuries behind him and a lack of consistent form it seems unlikely to happen.
I wish him well if he makes the move to join King Kev, but I don’t see him filling the enormous hole that appears in the Newcastle defence so often.