Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United defender Paddy McNair to seize Euro chance to impress new boss Mourinho

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland ace Paddy McNair has become the first Manchester United star to speak about the imminent arrival of Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, outlining his desire to impress the new manager.

McNair is determined to prove to Mourinho that he should be in his plans at Old Trafford and hopes to use the Euro 2016 finals to showcase his talents.

The 21-year-old from Ballyclare added that he was 'grateful' to Louis van Gaal, who was sacked by United on Monday, for giving him his first-team debut in 2014 and other big game opportunities.

Former Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss Mourinho is set to sign a three-year deal tomorrow to take over at United.

Quizzed on the 'Special One' at a media day for the Northern Ireland team at Carton House in County Kildare, McNair said: "He is a world class manager, who has worked with massive clubs and the best players in the world and I'll be looking to impress and hopefully he will make me a better player.

"If I'm playing in France he can watch me and make his opinion of me there. I'll also go into pre-season and that's another chance to impress the manager."

Quizzed on the fact that Mourinho does not have a history of giving youth a chance, McNair commented: “I think you will just have to go into training and try your best and if he likes you he likes you and if he doesn’t he doesn’t. I will try my hardest.

“In the season just past I didn’t play as much as I would have liked.

“I played in 10 matches in the end but had a few injuries so it was a bit stop-start. I’ll look forward to next season and take it from there.

“I did say to the manager (Van Gaal) in January about going on loan but he wanted me to stay in the squad.”

On Dutchman Van Gaal, the Ballyclare boy said: “He gave me my chance and I’ll always be grateful for that. He gave youngsters a go at United and has done that throughout his career.”

McNair savoured being at Wembley to see his team lift the FA Cup on Saturday after good friend Jesse Lingard scored a stunning winner against Crystal Palace.

He is now relishing the opportunity to go to France with the Northern Ireland squad, who are enjoying the luxurious setting of Carton House, just outside Dublin.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill explained that he chose the base in the Republic of Ireland because of its superb facilities.

When he was in charge of Shamrock Rovers he used the venue, though to save money back then the players used to go home to their houses rather than stay in the hotel.

“It was the quality of the pitches. In the League of Ireland we were preparing for pre-season and that was January. So our pre-season was consistently on artificial surfaces. We wanted to get them off that,” explained O’Neill.

“We’d do double sessions here, eat here, the hotel were brilliant.

“At that time some of the League of Ireland clubs were going away to Spain. We didn’t have the budget to do that.

“When we played Real Madrid here in the friendly, this is where they stayed. If it’s good enough for them...

“Last year we were scheduled to play Wales but they pulled out. What we did then was play a behind-closed-doors game against the Republic, which Martin (O’Neill) facilitated and we came here for four days then and the players loved it. The fact that everything is on site, it’s just a nice environment to be in.”

This week O’Neill will deliver bad news to the unlucky players  who won’t make his final squad of 23 for France.

As he told the Belfast Telegraph last month, he will tell players to their face.

He added: “It’s part of the job. It’ll be a one-on-one where I explain the reasons. I’ll tell them I’ve looked at the options. I expect players to be disappointed.

“I’m hoping they won’t attack me! And those players left out, it is one moment in time, it doesn’t mean they won’t go on to have good international careers.”

Belfast Telegraph