So what’s he got? Dons man gives the lowdown on City’s new midfielder
PUBLISHED: 16:34 22 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:17 24 January 2018
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So what have Norwich City got with the signing of Kenny McLean? Michael Bailey spoke to Aberdeen Evening Express’ Sean Wallace about City’s new Scot.
Past performance is not always a guide to future success – but there is no doubt some of what Kenny McLean has offered Aberdeen will be music to Norwich City ears, if it is produced on the pitch in a yellow shirt.
The 26-year-old Scottish midfielder has spent three years at Pittodrie, watched each week by Aberdeen Evening Express’ Dons correspondent Sean Wallace.
He will get another few months to enjoy McLean too of course, with City’s second January signing immediately loaned back to complete his campaign in the Scottish Premiership.
That will give Canaries fans their own chance to assess Norwich’s latest signing, and a player Wallace believes is ready to make his mark in England.
“He’s solid and he’s never injured, which is a bonus,” said Wallace. “He’s seen as a leader and he’s got this self-belief about him.
“You could tell, even when he first came to Aberdeen, that he believed he would move on to something bigger.
“His self-belief has never wavered but it’s justified as well. There have been games where he really stands out and I think he will do a decent job down there.
“If Norwich get promoted this season – and I know it’s a big if – then I think the Premier League might be a bit too soon for him, but he can definitely do a job in the Championship.
“The games against Rangers and Celtic are a high standard, but then you go to places like Partick Thistle and Ross County – whereas he will now be getting really challenging games every week.
“So it is a big step up for him but I think he’ll handle it. He should have more Scotland caps than the two he has.”
McLean’s own words on his Norwich arrival included the description “box to box midfielder” – and with the likely Norfolk departures of Harrison Reed and Alex Tettey this summer, filling the holes left by their exits seems most in need come next season.
That in itself may be why McLean wants a pre-season to ensure he is fully integrated into head coach Daniel Farke’s style of play.
“I can see where he’s coming from and he’s got a big engine on him,” said Wallace. “He does track back and he crunches into tackles. He never holds back and he’s one of those players who drives his team-mates on – he’s just maybe been a bit overshadowed by Graeme Shinnie this season so far.
“The only thing I’d say about McLean is that he probably hasn’t scored enough goals.”
He perhaps has not created enough either, given McLean is yet to register an assist from open play in the league this season.
“He normally plays in the hole,” added Wallace. “Aberdeen play a 4-2-3-1 and he’s played behind the striker, feeding balls through. He can play as a holding midfielder as well.
“He hasn’t been as impressive this first half of the season as he was in the latter half of the last campaign, when he was fantastic and probably Aberdeen’s best player.
“He maybe dropped off a little at the end but the fact is on the ball, he is a quality player.”
As for the rest of the season, there are no recriminations expected from Dons supporters towards the midfielder – for one major reason.
“He’ll be fine,” added Wallace. “The Aberdeen fans will accept it and get behind him. I think they’ll just be relieved he didn’t go to Rangers, which looked like being his destination for quite a while.
“It says a lot for his ambition that he’s chosen to go south of the border.”
Coincidentally McLean’s first game for Aberdeen following his Norwich move, is a league trip to Ibrox to take on Rangers on Wednesday night – when Russell Martin is also set to make his debut of the hosts, since leaving the Canaries on loan last week.
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