Paddy McNair has gained a lot of experience in the space of 12 months at Old Trafford.
Injuries to fellow Manchester United defenders granted Paddy McNair opportunities this season in Louis van Gaal's squad. There can be no doubt over his footballing ability but there is still room for improvement from the Northern Ireland centre-back.
McNair, who grew up on a farm in Balycorr, now finds himself playing football in front of 75,000+ people at Old Trafford on Premier League match days. He has come a long way since his farmyard childhood and now looks set to learn even more under the guidance of manager Louis van Gaal.
Tyler Blackett was also introduced to the Manchester United spotlight alongside McNair last season, with van Gaal putting his faith in U21 players. The latter received a new contract in February.
“I love playing for Van Gaal, I really enjoy it and hopefully that will continue for many more years to come,” McNair told Manchester Evening News.
“When you see the young players he has given a chance to in the past at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, it’s nice of him to show faith in me with a new contract.”
When coming through United's youth system, McNair was seen as an attacking midfielder but was converted into a defender as time went on.
“I quite enjoy playing both in midfield and defence, I’d be happy playing in either area of the pitch,” added McNair.
“I think I’m a ball-player rather than a ball-winner. I just love having the ball at my feet. I know I’m a centre-back but I love dribbling and I like trying to take people on. Centre-backs shouldn’t really be doing that but I do try.
“You see all the top teams like Barcelona playing out from the back — we are a top team too.
“Moving forward, I’d like to try and nail down a place in the United team, just try and play as many games as I can and hopefully the trophies come.”
McNair made 18 appearances for Manchester United in his debut season as a member of the first-team. He vaguely recalls a low-point of his season being hauled off at half-time against Southampton in December.
“I haven’t watched the game back. I just forgot about it. The manager said to me afterwards ‘just get on with it’.
"I started 10 days later against Newcastle and it was forgotten about.”
It remains uncertain whether McNair will get as many first-team opportunities at centre-half next season with competition likely to increase over the summer, with new defensive signings expected at Old Trafford.