The capture of Woodgate is the clubs first big money signing this January and is an indication of manager Juande Ramos' concern regarding our continuing defensive frailty. The Middlesbrough born defender brings with him a wealth of experience and is held in high regard by Ramos, who was impressed by Woodgate during his short spell at Real Madrid. Fans will be looking forward to a potential Ledley King - Woodgate partnership in the heart of defence but whilst our talismanic captain remains unable to play in two consecutive games as he recovers from his much publicised knee injuries, Woodgate should provide the team with leadership and experience at the back.
Woodgate began his career with Middlesbrough but moved to Leeds United when we was sixteen. He enjoyed a promising time at Leeds, despite off the field problems and a highly publicised court case in 2001. Since then his reputation has improved, although his career has been hampered by a series of serious injuries. If he had stayed fit, his impressive performances for Leeds, Newcastle United and Real Madrid would certainly have seen him achieve more than the six caps he currently has for England.
Woodgate's performances since returning to his hometown won him the acclaim of fans and pundits, but with niggling injuries disrupting his season with Middlesbrough this year, Gareth Southgate has deemed his sale acceptable. If we can keep him fit, we've signed a fantastic defender. How big an 'if' that is, remains to be seen.