United legend praises McNair for 'incredible' performance at Chelsea

Old Trafford

Paul McGrath had words of praise for one Manchester United defender, despite the 1-0 loss at Stamford Bridge.

Manchester United legend Paul McGrath was very much taken with the performance of young defender Paddy McNair in last weekend's game with Chelsea, telling the official United website that the Red Devils graduate was 'incredible'.

McGrath made 163 league appearances during a seven-year spell at Old Trafford in the 1980s, and the ex-centre-half gave his opinion on two of the club's options at the back after the narrow loss to the Blues, with McNair earning particular praise.

"I thought he [McNair] was incredible against Chelsea," said McGrath. "He showed a maturity level that I would never have shown at his age.

"If a space opens up in front of you as a defender and you know you’re quick enough to go through it without getting caught, then you should go through it. He did that a few times at Chelsea and even tested Courtois with a shot. He seems to be very comfortable with the ball at his feet."

McNair was thrown in at the deep end of a depleted United defence at times this season, making his debut against West Ham in September, but just like he did against Chelsea, the 19-year-old has continued to impress despite his tender age.

The defender made his Northern Ireland debut in the 1-0 defeat to Scotland in March, but has accumulated a solid 15 appearances for the Red Devils this season, rarely looking out of place among the team's more established names.  

McGrath also picked the Manchester United defender whose playing style is most similar to what was his own approach as a player, with the 55-year-old plumping for fellow Irishman Jonny Evans in those stakes.

"It's difficult to answer when people ask me which current centre-back most reminds me of my playing style," said the Republic of Ireland favourite. "But I suppose it could be Jonny Evans. He wins his fair share in the air and he also seems calm on the ball. He likes to play a bit of football, get it back and knock it around."

With McNair and Evans at the club, Northern Ireland have two centre backs at one of the world's best teams, as sure a sign as any that Michael O'Neill's men are to continue their impressive form in the European Championship qualifying rounds.

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