Paddy McNair's message to his Middlesbrough teammates after Blackburn defeat
Midfielder Paddy McNair has echoed the message that Middlesbrough need to be brave in possession and stick to their principles following Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Blackburn.
Boro head coach Jonathan Woodgate wants his side to play a high-tempo, possession-based brand of football but admitted his side needed to keep the ball better at Ewood Park.
It seems clear the transition will take time following the previous regime under Tony Pulis, and McNair’s contribution has been one of the key differences since the change of management.
The Northern Ireland international, 24, signed for Boro as a midfielder for a reported £5million from Sunderland in 2018 but was often deployed in defence.
Under Woodgate, though, McNair has been moved back into his natural position and has been one of the side’s standout performers in recent weeks.
“Compared to last season it is far better because we are playing football again,” said McNair after the Blackburn result.
“Everyone wants to get the ball down and pass it. Last season was the opposite of that.
“We have good footballers in the team so we want to do that. In that respect it’s not too much of an ask, but I think at this stage it is about getting that bit of luck.
“Last year we did play a very defensive, long ball style of play. This year it’s a pressing game, we want to keep the ball and move it forward.”
Woodgate is still yet to record his first competitive win as Boro boss but McNair believes the new approach will be rewarded.
“If we stick to how we want to play then we will pick up points,” he added.
“Blackburn were very direct and in the first half we fell in the trap of going direct as well, forcing it too fast as well. We will have to learn from these games. We will have to look at the games, keep the positives and learn from the negatives.
“We have to keep playing, be brave on the ball and keep going. It can be hard but you need to get it down and play.”