Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate sets challenge for Paddy McNair this season after Millwall goal
Midfielder Paddy McNair has looked like a player transformed at the start of this season after netting his first Middlesbrough goal on Saturday afternoon.
The Northern Ireland international didn’t play a single league game in his natural position last term, as former manager Tony Pulis chose to play him in defence.
But, under new head coach Jonathan Woodgate, McNair, who joined the Teessiders for a reported £5million from Sunderland last summer, has been one of Boro’s standout performers.
The 24-year-old has offered the side an extra attacking threat with his lung-busting runs from midfield, while his confidence in possession appears to suit the way Woodgate wants to play.
After netting the opening goal in Boro’s 1-1 draw against Millwall at the weekend, Woodgate was asked about McNair’s qualities. “I want my eights to score between eight and 10 goals and if they do that we'll have a good season,” he replied.
“Paddy can do that, he's an old school type player who can go box-to-box with the ball and you can see how he runs with speed, he runs with real desire to try and commit players and I thought he deserved the goal on his second half performance.
Another player who’s had a strong start to the campaign is forward Ashley Fletcher, 23, who combined with McNair for the Millwall opener.
On the frontman, Woodgate added: “He got another assist Fletch and he's great when he turns in those pockets and gets at players and really affects the game. I thought his link-up play was good again, especially in the second half.”