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Neil Warnock: Paddy McNair is the best player I've ever managed and belongs in European competition

 

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Paddy McNair is ready for a big 2021.

Paddy McNair is ready for a big 2021.

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Paddy McNair is ready for a big 2021.

What do Adel Taarabt, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Wilfried Zaha have in common?

According to one of their former managers, it's that none of them are as good as Northern Ireland's own Paddy McNair.

Middlesbrough chief Neil Warnock has been tripping over himself all season to talk up his his star man as the club bid to secure promotion to the Premier League.

It's at that top level of English football that Warnock says McNair belongs.

In fact, looking back on a managerial career that has so far spanned 40 years and 18 jobs, the 72-year-old reckons his current centre-half tops the list of every single player he has ever managed.

Considering he has led QPR, Crystal Palace and Cardiff city in the Premier League, taking charge of the three aforementioned flying wingers as well as the likes of Bobby Zamora, DJ Campbell and Joey Barton, it's quite a claim.

"I can’t think of one better (than McNair), I really can’t,” he said. “I keep thinking, but I can’t come up with anyone.

“I’ve had goalscorers – (Adel) Taarabt and (Victor) Moses and people like that, individuals who can do a bit of magic. But as a player, as a pro, as a person, I’ve never had a better specimen than this.

“The really exciting thing is that he’ll get better than this too. I’ll be surprised in the next two or three years if he’s not playing in Europe at the very top. He’s the best I’ve ever seen.”

McNair has been at the heart of a defence that has conceded only once in their three consecutive wins going into tonight's trip to Sheffield Wednesday. He's a huge part of the reason the club is just three points off the play-off places, with a game in hand on the sides above them.

He's more accustomed to playing as an attacking midfielder when on international duty, but it's unlikely he'll get the nod to move forward at club level.

“Is he a defender? Without a shadow of a doubt,” laughed Warnock. “He thinks he’s a midfield player, but I’ve told him he’s an average midfield player. He’s an excellent centre-half though."

Earlier in the season, Warnock crowned McNair as the best player in the Championship and claimed he would 'walk it' in the top league.

Belfast Telegraph


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