Pressure holds no fears for McDonald
SCOTT McDONALD has spent the last two-and-a-half years thriving on the pressure of being Celtic's main goalscorer. Now he is relishing the challenge of being hailed as the key to Middlesbrough promotion bid. On Monday Gordon Strachan decided to cash in on Adam Johnson raising an initial £6m, and reinvesting more than half of that on the Aussie striker. But McDonald, who hit 51 goals in 88 league appearances at Celtic, has no problems with his new role, and is ready to live up to his pricetag after accepting the supporters will be looking for an instant return. When you come to a football club you want to hit the ground running and get goals straight away. I am no different, said McDonald, who is expected to be handed his debut at Ipswich today. I like the idea of having lots of pressure on me. It is a lovely thing. I feel good about that because it means I have a job to do. I have now got to deliver. It is a tough job but I have had a lot of pressure on me at Celtic and I think I have thrived under that. I like it. You live with pressure and you make it work for yourself. McDonald has been linked with a move to Teesside for the last six weeks with Strachan initially quoted £5m for the player. There were times when the Boro boss did not think a deal would be done, but then on deadline day after allowing Johnson to head for City Mc- Donald was told to drive down to the North-East at 1pm to finalise his move. I am absolutely delighted even though I had two and a half fantastic years at Celtic, said McDonald, whose parents were born in Glasgow. I will treasure that for the rest of my life especially as I was brought up a Celtic supporter because of my family, who more or less brainwashed me from a young age. It was a difficult decision but under the circumstances I thought I had to look somewhere else. I wasn't playing regularly enough and there was no better opportunity out there for me than to link up with my old manager who got the best out of me. I played my best football with him so to work with him again is a huge pleasure. This is the third time Mc- Donald has worked under Strachan, having been allowed to leave Southampton as during the Scot's time in charge in 2003. Gordon was a massive reason for me coming to Boro, said the 26-year-old. I know the club; it is a big club and should be in the Premier League. He has changed as a manager with more experience and getting older. You learn and you grow but he is still as charismatic as ever but he has never lost his fiery character and he tells you when you are not doing the right things. That is what I like about him the most because he is always honest with you. That is all you can ask for. McDonald started to play professionally for Gippsland Falcons in Australia before moving to Southampton in 2001. But his roots in Melbourne almost led to him to try and play cricket for his country. His parents, however, had other ideas. I loved cricket massively from a very early age, said McDonald, who is in line to play for Australia at the World Cup. I was a batsman and bowler and my heroes were Alan Border and Steve Waugh. Growing up as a kid in Australia with the weather we have, you have to play cricket and it was great fun playing it. There came a time when I couldn't keep the two sports going. Soccer became fulltime for me and my parents said I had to decide what to concentrate on when I was 13. Football was always my first love from the first day I was born. My dad drummed that into me as he was from Glasgow. The first thing he bought for me was a soft ball toy so I grew up with that. From then on it was never going to be cricket.
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