There has been a lot of success and resurgence under caretaker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in terms of individuals reaching their full potential. We have seen midfielder Paul Pogba finally produce game after game, Marcus Rashford has been scoring a lot of goals at his preferred central striking position. But, when it comes to an individual going above and beyond, we have to mention midfielder Scott McTominay.
Who is McTominay? Introduced into the team by José Mourinho, he was quickly — and surprisingly — elevated to first choice. However, some could say he was the example Mourinho wanted to use against Paul Pogba. McTominay is a team-first guy who never stops working for the team. Buried deep in the Pogba versus Mourinho conflict, McTominay was actually playing well. As time went on, McTominay saw less time on the field; if there was any word to describe this run, the word would be inconsistent. He would play a few games in a row then would go missing for a while, merely used as a pawn in Mourinho’s fight against Pogba and the board.
When Solskjaer took over, McTominay was nowhere to be seen. Instead, as has been well noted, Pogba came into great form, Ander Herrera grew into his own, and the experience of Nemanja Matić was preferred at the base of midfield. Solskjaer settled on his preferred midfield 3 quickly and decisively. Due to injuries, however, McTominay finally got his chance to see the pitch and this is where his new story begins. With a new manager, you have the opportunity to impress and McTominay did just that.
After the 0-0 draw against Liverpool on February 24th, Solskjaer specifically singled McTominay out for his performance, even comparing him to Darren Fletcher. That is very high praise and likely a big boost for McTominay. Fletcher was a do-it-all midfielder for Manchester United, who made 223 appearances for the club. With Fletcher, you got the same fight and passion you see McTominay play with today.
What makes McTominay so valuable to the team is his role. He never stops running and does all of the unseen work. He is constantly cutting off passing lanes, marking the opponent’s key attackers, and really just controls the middle of the field with his defensive work. Against PSG in United’s biggest moment of the season, McTominay was tasked with tracking midfielder Marco Verratti. McTominay pressed him every single time and made his night a lot harder. It was a tremendous performance by him, and it was crucial to the team’s success. It is evident, as McTominay continues to grow in confidence, his passing and attacking play will only grow as well. But in this team, his defensive work is what stands out. This role suits him and United perfectly as he is able to marshall and defend the best. This allows players like Pogba to focus more on creating chances for the team.
This brings us to the question, why was he not selected versus Arsenal? Having just played in the Champions League versus PSG, it is possible Solskjaer wanted to rest McTominay. He gave the nod to Fred who has recently improved as well, and Matić who did not play against PSG.
This brings us to the point: McTominay needs to play over Matić. He is more lively in defense and even offers more going forward. Tenacity, heart, passion and hard work are just some of the things you get when McTominay is in the team. By all means, he is one player who plays for the badge of the front of the shirt.
McTominay needs to get back into the United team because he is able to put everything on the line every time he steps on the pitch. If Matić’s experience is preferred right now, it is still clear that McTominay is his natural successor. Big time players could be linked to taking over in holding midfield come the summer transfer window, but it is a guarantee, where they might have him in skill, they’ll never be able to make up for his passion and desire to perform for this club.
McTominay has seen a big resurgence in form under Solskjaer and with him in the team, you are always going to get something good. He needs to be a first choice player.