13 clearances, 83% pass accuracy: Paddy McNair impresses on Manchester United debut

Defensive injuries forced Louis van Gaal to give Paddy McNair his Manchester United debut on Saturday against West Ham, and the 19-year-old handled the occasion with impressive maturity.

Few fans were familiar with Manchester United youngster Paddy McNair prior to the weekend, but the Northern Irishman’s performance in the 2-1 home win over West Ham United suggested that he could be set for a bright future at Old Trafford.

Injuries to Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans, as well as suspension for Tyler Blackett, saw Louis van Gaal forced to give the 19-year-old his first-team debut on Saturday at centre-back and, despite his lack of experience, he certainly didn’t look out of place facing top-flight opposition.

A relative novice at the position, having recently converted from the midfield, McNair only made his first start for the club's under-21 side last February, but the stats show that his response to being thrown in at the deep end was far from nervy.

  TeamTotal ClearanceEffective ClearanceInterceptionInterception WonTotal PassPass AccTouchesUnsuccessful TouchMins
Patrick McNair Man Utd 13 13 1 1 53 83.02% 67 0 90

McNair's 13 effective clearances were in fact the most across the Premier League on Saturday, while he also prevented a likely Enner Valencia equaliser on 83 minutes with an impressive angled header as a West Ham cross shot across the face of goal.

The under-21 international didn't need to record a tackle on the afternoon, while he contested just one lost duel, but it was an assured outing for a teenager and one which earned him the praise of numerous figures, including his manager.

'He played very well,' Van Gaal told MUTV. 'I could have imagined a performance like this before the match because he’s a very good player. Mostly, players like this have good debuts.

'I’m very pleased for him that we won, because he played very well and his goal-saving header in the second half was fantastic. He was also very good with the ball at his feet.'

It remains to be seen how many more first-team opportunities McNair will get over the coming weeks and months but, after a worthy display in trying circumstances, things look extremely promising for the future.

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