McLean accepts ‘ugly’ pragmatism trumps style amid City’s struggles

Kenny McLean of Norwich gives the thumbs up to the traveling support at the end of the Premier Leagu

Kenny McLean thanks the travelling Norwich support after last weekend's draw at Burnley - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Sacrificing style points in the pursuit of Premier League points is necessary for Norwich City at the moment, admits midfielder Kenny McLean. 

The Canaries have developed an attractive playing style under Daniel Farke’s stewardship but after a difficult start to the campaign following promotion, those credentials are again under scrutiny. 

Grinding out a goalless draw at Burnley brought an end to 16 consecutive defeats in the top tier for City – with the initial 10 during the relegation of 2020 – after moving to a more defensive 3-5-2 shape recently in the search for stability. 

“I’m the same as everybody, if you’re not winning games then you're disappointed,” explained McLean. “You can play as well as you want and if you go back to the last time we were in the league, we got some plaudits for the way we played and stuff. 

“But, to me, we got relegated so it doesn’t matter. We want to win games, of course we want to do it in the right way, but we showed we can be ugly and go toe to toe with teams like Burnley. 

“We know we’ve got the quality to then build on that because we want to keep playing that style of play but it’s not always going to be possible or perfect for us. 

“So we need to show this other side to us and show real commitment.” 

McLean is currently away with Scotland alongside Billy Gilmour and Grant Hanley, although Hanley misses tonight’s crunch World Cup qualifying clash with Israel in Glasgow as he serves a one-game ban having been booked twice during the campaign. 

Former Aberdeen favourite McLean is hoping to win his 22nd cap, with the 29-year-old having played every minute of City’s last five top-flight games, playing on the left of the central midfield three in the new formation. 

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“The manager will pick the shape of the team that he feels is best to go and win a game. We worked on numerous shapes and formations throughout pre-season,” he continued. 

“It was a tough pre-season but we played different formations in games, we did a lot of training and the managers big on that, to be able to adapt to certain teams. 

“We started with a four, we’re now a three at the back, but that can change and us as players need to be ready to do that. 

“We know exactly what is needed from us because the manager has drilled it into us perfectly, so it’s up to us to go on to the pitch and put that across.” 

NCFC EXTRA: Adams challenges Norwich City players to kick on after Burnley draw

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