There aren’t many things going Manchester United’s way right now, but manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can take solace in knowing that at least one of his men have greatly improved since he took over as permanent manager. The United midfield might not be at its best right now, but there’s no question that Scott McTominay is pulling a significant amount of weight there. For those reasons, among others, he should be seriously considered for the role of permanent captain in the future.
The 22-year-old earned back-to-back Player of the Month honors in September and October, and that’s caught the attention of former United centre-back Rio Ferdinand. Ferdinand told talkSPORT that McTominay isn’t quite ready to wear the armband full-time, but is already “showing good signs.”
“I think it is too early to say that yet, but he is showing good signs. I think he is showing that he has got thick skin,” the legend said on Saturday following United’s 1-0 loss against Bournemouth.
“The word ‘character’ is a huge element in any player’s make-up, that will enable him to become captain. You can see he has got that fire in his belly, he is a Manchester United boy through and through and has been there since he was five years-old.
“He understands what it means to be a Manchester United player and they are important aspects to be a captain of Manchester United, so he is on the right track.”
The six-time domestic champion has a point. McTominay has bossed the midfield in Paul Pogba’s absence, with one of his statement performances coming in the 2-1 win against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup. From interceptions to tackles won, it’s clear McTominay fits his manager’s system, and is excited to be given both attacking and defensive responsibilities depending on the opponent. Perhaps the most impressive moment from McTominay in last week’s contest arrived toward the end of the match, when he was encouraging his teammates to get into position during the crucial final moments of stoppage time.
In a squad short on leadership, McTominay is successfully basking in the responsibilities Solskjaer has bestowed on him to properly bring some order to the midfield. In fact, he’s doing the job many thought Pogba would be accomplishing. McTominay first got his start in the José Mourinho era, but it’s only under Solskjaer where fans are finally being treated to the Scot who impressed the Special One, a feat few United players could achieve. Mourinho always spoke fondly of McTominay, but there was always that impression the compliments directed toward him were secretly intended to ignite adverse reactions from his fellow mates. After all, the Portuguese couldn’t praise one player without condemning another.
McTominay exemplifies key traits all United players should possess: humility, perseverance, and courage on the pitch. He, along with other academy graduates who have earned a spot in the senior squad, is also skilled enough to be utilized by a manager willing to give the youth players a chance. His form is reminiscent of former United star Darren Fletcher, even leading many to dub McTominay as this generation’s version of Fletch. They both hail from the same nation and anchor the midfield in a commanding, yet dynamic manner. McTominay’s performances as of late have even caught the eye of Fletcher himself, resulting in accolades from the now 35-year-old legend.
“He’s been fantastic for Manchester United this season, really rising to the challenge of being a midfielder and I do see a little bit of myself in him,” Fletcher said to Sky Sports.
“When he first came into the team, he was willing to sacrifice his own game for the greater good of the team and sometimes went under the radar, as it takes a little bit longer to get recognition.
“I hope he goes onto have a great career because every manager he has worked under loves him, he’s a great kid and takes instructions to the letter, even if that means sacrificing himself for his teammates.”
Manchester United’s season may be nearly wasted and it’s not even the festive fixtures yet, but Scott McTominay is a necessity to this club and when the time is right, can become the next owner of the prestigious skipper’s armband.