TONY PULIS has backed Jonathan Woodgate to turn things around at Middlesbrough, and claimed the club are still counting the cost of a “disastrous” transfer window under Gary Monk.

Woodgate succeeded Pulis after the Welshman ended his 18-month spell on Teesside in the summer, but the new head coach has failed to hit the ground running, winning just two of his opening 15 league games.

Saturday’s defeat at Derby County left Boro mired in the relegation zone, but Pulis insists it would be unfair to point the finger of blame in Woodgate’s direction.

“Obviously, they haven’t started very well, (but) it’s Woody’s first (job),” said Pulis, who has been linked with the vacant managerial position at his former club Stoke City in the last couple of days. “

“He’s dipped his toe in the water, and, irrespective of what courses you do, and what people tell you, until you actually sit in that seat, you actually don’t understand it.

“So, Jonathan will need time. He’s got a good chairman, and he’s got a good football club, and like everybody else he needs to pick up a few results. I’m sure they’ll do that, and then Steve (Gibson) will certainly give him the opportunity and the time then to have a right crack at it.”

Having reached the play-offs in his first season on Teesside, Pulis came up short last season with Boro finishing in seventh position, but he feels it was always going to be a difficult task to maintain momentum once there was a need to cut costs after Boro’s first tranche of parachute payments were squandered under Monk.

“To sell the players that we sold – (Adam) Forshaw, (Cyrus) Christie, (Ben) Gibson, (Patrick) Bamford, (Adama) Traore, to name just five – I think we cut the staff by 15-16 players in the 18 months I was there, just to rejig the finances which was important after an absolutely disastrous window,” said Pulis, in a podcast interview with Ian Holloway.

“The football club is struggling today because of what happened two-and-a-half years ago. It’s not what Woody’s done, or what the players are doing; the big, big point was two-and-a-half years ago.

"If you have a bad window, if you have a disastrous window like that, and your recruitment is no good, then you’re going to suffer – and supporters have got to understand and recognise that.”