In an odd, underwhelming, troubling Manchester United season, Scott McTominay has been one of the silver linings. The young Scot has made 22 appearances, including a fair few starts, and while he hasn’t necessarily been eye-catchingly brilliant, he’s been impressive in two regards.
The first is his performances, particularly in games that should have been well above his pay-grade. He was among United’s best performers against PSG and Barcelona, and though neither were grand festivals of carnivalesque attacking, he did his job and did it well in extremely testing circumstances.
The second point concerns his general demeanour over this season and last. Given that he came into United’s first team as, essentially, a proxy in a war of egos between his manager and his most high-profile teammate, it would have been easy — and extremely understandable — for him to quail under the pressure. It’s a heavy shirt at the best of times. This is not the best of times.
Instead he’s quietly got on with business: working hard, playing well, getting better. You can understand Solskjaer’s apparent intention to rebuild around him, even if you can also kind of understand why everybody fell over laughing at the idea. Ultimately, we’ll find out whether he’s good enough over the next couple of years. But he seems to have the head for it, and that’s the first step. AT
Scott McTominay had an oddly okay season. He shed off some of the growing pains that made fans groan last season, but didn’t necessarily separate himself from the pack as a first choice midfielder.
He and Fred formed a strange, semi-successful partnership late in the year. The two found themselves, seemingly, as squad outcasts for the first half of the season. It was odd, considering Fred was recently signed for an enormous fee and McTominay was José Mourinho’s POTY the season before. McTominay’s only memorable outing early on was memorable for all the wrong reasons, as Mourinho played him in a centre back role against West Ham. Whether it was just a dumb tactical move, or a genuine attempt to get sacked and have his contract paid off, Mourinho only further exposed the defense and the young Scotsman in a dreadful 3-1 loss.
McTominay saw action here and there under José, and then Ole. Then, he was called into action at a crucial stage in the season, and answered the call, particularly in the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain. McTominay served as a box-to-box threat, looking like someone who had paid attention to Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick, and even bagged a couple of nice goals down the stretch.
McTominay’s form didn’t lift the team down the stretch, put it was abundantly clear that he was a better option than Nemanja Matić or Andreas Pereira in the middle of the park. His youth and physicality was again on display, but what made him more acceptable than last year was his composure. He had a very good game against Barcelona at Old Trafford, putting in a solid game of brutal midfield play. He wasn’t rewarded by the rest of his team for his efforts that night, but if he can replicate that form consistently he’ll be a valuable squad player for United going forward. CD