Scott McTominay has been the surprising package this season and has become a trusted member of José Mourinho’s midfield.
The 21-year-old made his debut late last season, one of a flurry of Manchester United academy products to appear when Mourinho opted to concentrate on European success. The midfielder has now made 18 appearances in all competitions this season, a remarkable feat considering expectations for his future with the club.
“Last season, he was almost leaving the club to go somewhere, who knows where, who knows in which division he’d be playing now,” Mourinho said.
McTominay was among several reserve players unsure of their role in the senior squad. The likes of Josh Harrop, Adnan Januzaj and Guillermo Varela all left on permanent deals, while 9 players left on loan deals during the summer transfer window.
However, he stayed at Old Trafford and has risen dramatically ever since. With the turn of the New Year, McTominay has particularly become an essential tool for Mourinho’s tactical guise, often being picked over Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick.
McTominay’s recent declaration of playing for the Scottish national team has enhanced remarks of his similarities to former United player, Darren Fletcher. The two players are strikingly alike in style of play, appearance, demeanor and attitude. Fans have also commented on the likeliness of the relationship between player and manager – Mourinho and McTominay mirroring Fletcher and Alex Ferguson’s close connection.
Indeed, McTominay shares many qualities that Fletcher possessed during his 12 years at the club. And the young midfielder has commented on his predecessor’s advice going forward.
“He trained with us a couple of times when I was younger and I did look to him as a real role model and a leader at the football club,” McTominay said. “When we played Stoke earlier in the season, I spoke with Darren and he was really good with me. He just said ‘Keep going, keep doing what you’re doing and keep looking to improve every day by working hard.’”
Unlike Fletcher and many other academy graduates to make the grade in the first-team, McTominay was never a name to behold as a future star. He was plagued by injuries which limited his impact during his football education. When he was younger, his slight frame, paired with his small height, meant being overlooked compared to many of his teammates that were more advanced physically. A sudden transformation of frame – although contributing to injuries – and a deep-driven determination to succeed, helped develop McTominay into the player he is today.
It’s this work ethic, drive and eagerness to learn that highlights McTominay from other players. Midfield partner Nemanja Matić is another player to notice this quality from the youngster.
”He’s working a lot every day and is looking to the older players to take things from them and to learn, and I’m sure that he will be a Manchester United star because I think he is born for this job,” Matić said.
Fletcher believes that Scotland have pipped England to a future star.
“It’s a great coup for Scotland,” he told the Daily Mail. “He’s really forced his way into the Manchester United team in the last few weeks and is someone who is going to have a bright future in the game to play for us.”