Paddy McNair makes honest admission on Sunderland's Championship relegation and current Middlesbrough battle

Paddy McNair says Middlesbrough’s attempts to beat the Championship drop feels ‘nothing like’ Sunderland’s relegation from the division in 2018.
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McNair had missed much of that campaign as he recovered from a serious ACL injury suffered the previous season.

His return towards the end of the campaign was crucial for then manager Chris Coleman, and though the Black Cats didn’t beat the top, a number of clubs were sufficiently impressed to move for his signature.

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Middlesbrough currently sit two points above the drop after a massive win over Charlton Athletic, in which McNair scored the winning goal.

Middlesbrough midfielder Paddy McNairMiddlesbrough midfielder Paddy McNair
Middlesbrough midfielder Paddy McNair

"You can’t really compare the situation here to when I was relegated at Sunderland,” he said.

“It’s chalk and cheese.

“That was obviously really difficult and it felt as though relegation was probably on the cards for quite a while.

“It’s never felt anything like that here. It’s very different. If you look at our squad, it’s not a group that should be battling to stay in the league. If anything, it should be up at the other end of the table.

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“It hasn’t worked out like that though, mainly because I think we’ve drawn too many games.

“We played Brentford the other week and they were sitting in third after losing ten games and we were sitting in 18th after also having lost ten games.”

After a difficult first season at the Riverside, McNair has been a key player for new manager Jonathan Woodgate.

He recently lost his place in the side but has responded well, with Woodgate admitting the Northern ireland international had struggled having being asked to move from defence into midfield.

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“I spoke to him when I left him out of the team and he responded,” Woodgate said,

“That’s what I want from my players when I leave them out of the team, if you look at a couple of weeks ago when I left Rudy out of the squad he came back and put in a good performance.

“Paddy played very well at centre-back and then the next three games I had a discussion and he agreed with me, that wasn’t him.

“But I thought today he ran the midfield along with Adam Clayton.”