McNair was drafted into the first-team in the middle of an injury crisis and there were concerns about whether the 19-year-old was ready to make the jump up to Premier League football but he emphatically responded with what was a very assured debut up against a very physical side.
The Northern Irishman’s headed clearance late in the game was one of the stand-out moments and he followed it up with an equally as impressive performance against Everton in the next game.
“He was outstanding in his first match,” Van Gaal said about McNair.
“You see the reaction of fans. Every time he touched the ball – applause.”
McNair deserves all the praise he gets because of how well he has done since making the big step up to Premier League football.
Van Gaal was pointing out how impressive McNair was when he insisted how no player would walk straight back into United’s XI, no matter how expensive or important they were on paper.
He added: “Nobody is walking back in my team. You have to earn it on the training ground – every player knows that.
“I have great respect for the players I use at this moment and I have also the confidence in these players.
“When you mention Rooney, Carrick and Jones – of course they are great football players, but we have more great football players. Sometimes the other football players are doing better. It is not only the name.
“I have seen, for example, the youngest player, (Paddy) McNair, was outstanding in his first match. You have seen the reaction of the fans. Every time he touched the ball – applause.”