Middlesbrough’s victory over Mansfield Town in the FA Cup means they face Manchester United in the fourth round next month.
Middlesbrough will be looking to replicate their scalp of the Red Devils from 2015, where they triumphed over Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United side in the EFL Cup on penalties.
Since then the two sides met in Middlesbrough’s most recent Premier League campaign with United winning both games.
But with Man United failing to impress under new boss Ralf Rangnick and Boro the opposite under Chris Wilder, the Championship side feel a giant killing could be a possibility.
When asked about the clash on talkSPORT radio, former manager of the North-East club Neil Warnock gave his insight.
He insisted that ‘his’ back three of Anfernee Dijskteel, Dael Fry and Paddy McNair are better than Manchester United’s defence.
“[Manchester United have] got my old team, Middlesbrough, in the next round of the FA Cup and I wouldn’t swap any of their defenders for the back-three at Middlesbrough – Dael Fry, Anfernee Dijksteel and Paddy McNair.
“I think they’re better than Man United’s defence.”
This is a bold statement from the former Cardiff City and Sheffield United manager, especially given they can boast the likes of £80 million Harry Maguire, the £41 million World Cup and Champions League winner Raphael Varane, £30 million Eric Bailly, and £30 million Victor Lindelof amongst others.
Middlesbrough’s concentration will ultimately be on the league and playing Manchester United twice a year up in the Premier League as opposed to in the cup. But a top flight scalp is good for morale and Wilder will go into the game wanting a win, there is no doubt about that.
But we will have to wait and see whether McNair, Dijksteel and Fry outperform their fourth round opponents’ defenders come Friday 4th February.