The Northern Irishman, who featured primarily as a central midfielder for Man United’s youth side, made his senior debut at centre-back amid an injury crisis in September 2014.
Speaking with M.E.N, the 21-year-old made it clear he was never deployed in his favourite position under van Gaal.
“Until I was 18, I played in midfield,” he said.
“Van Gaal played me at centre-back. So a lot of people think I’m a defender but I’ve not really ever been a defender. In midfield, a No10, I’ll play wherever – so long as I score two!
“When I was younger I scored a few goals so I’ve always chipped in. But I’ve waited a while for my first senior goal.
“I think my best position is left or right of a three in midfield.”
Watching McNair at Euro 2016, it became clear that van Gaal’s decision to use him at centre-back made little sense. He was, even in the high-octane frenzy of a major tournament, far more composed and relaxed in midfield. Everything came across as natural – a far cry from the occasionally befuddled style United fans witnessed during his final season.
That said, while his positional awareness, speed and agility all came under scrutiny, the Northern Irishman’s work rate and dedication to the cause was unquestionable. He will be remembered as a solid, assertive player by United, but one that lacked the ability to ever feature on a regular basis.