Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal has praised young defender Paddy McNair and hinted that his future at the club could lie in the right-back position.
Paddy McNair played on the right-hand side of a four man defence during the midweek win over Cambridge at Old Trafford and put in a Man of the Match performance with a fantastic performance. The 19 year old was constantly bombing up and down the flank and saw his shot cleared off the line, as well as playing a fantastic pass to Juan Mata to boost the attack in the build-up to the Spaniard’s opening goal.
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After impressing on Tuesday fans called for McNair to continue in that role against West Ham United on Sunday and Louis Van Gaal has admitted he could have a future in the position.
“It is not only Paddy McNair who has impressed with his development, as I have given a lot of chances to younger players. But Paddy McNair has developed himself very well, not only as a central defender but now we are giving him the chance to develop as a full-back and he did it very well.
“He has done it already in the second team [Under-21s] and has done it now at a higher level in the first-team,” the boss continued. “Maybe he shall be the right full-back of Manchester United for the next 10 years, you never know. He has the chance.”
Manchester United’s No.33 signed a new contract with the club prior to last weekend’s win over Leicester City with the boss revealing he was now a permanent member of the first team squad, in a similar way to James Wilson and Adnan Januzaj before him.
McNair himself was formerly an attacking midfielder but was shifted to centre-back by reserve team manager Warren Joyce and how now made a name for himself as one of the top prospects at the club. After the Cambridge game, the Northern Irish international revealed he was happy to play anywhere and he’s now told MUTV how playing at centre-back in the past helped him during his experience at full-back.
“I enjoyed getting down the right flank. I actually enjoy getting forward. It was a bit different. I played there for the Under-21s and I played there for the first time [in the senior team] against Yeovil in the second half. It was good to play there.
“I’ve played in a three at the back, so it’s kind of similar. It is similar to centre-back, but you’ve just got a bit more running forward to do, a lot more sprinting and overlapping. A lot of the time I was in their 18-yard box; when you’re a centre-back you don’t really get over the halfway line that much.
“As a centre-back, you always want your right-back to cover you. When I was playing there I thought, ‘when I’m playing centre-back, I want my right-back to be here’, so that’s where I went.”
With his aerial prowess, McNair could be a realistic option in the right-back role against West Ham as United will have to be wary of the strength of Andy Carroll, Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho at set-pieces. Antonio Valencia was rested against Cambridge and is expected to return, but McNair’s progress has given Rafael Da Silva even more competition in his position making his exit during the summer all the more likely.