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McTominay is determined to repay the faith shown by Mourinho

Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay is determined to repay the faith shown to him by manager Jose Mourinho after his surprise start in the 0-0 draw with Sevilla in the round of 16 first leg in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday evening. There was a stir on social media in the run-up to the match after the Portuguese manager left Paul Pogba on the bench after he recovered from the illness which kept him out of the 2-0 victory over Huddersfield Town in the Emirates FA Cup at the weekend.

This marked the ninth time McTominay had started for United competitively this season, his second start in the Champions League. The 21-year-old put in a mature display in the draw, pressing effectively, having a shot on goal in the first half also being efficient with his passing during the match, which saw the Spanish side register more than 20 shots on goal with David De Gea coming out as the Man of the Match, making eight saves during the clash. Speaking after the match, McTominay, reported by Sky Sports, said:

“Obviously it’s so important for me to repay the manager whenever he puts trust in me in these games.

“And I thought the whole team tonight put in a real shift for the manager and I think going back to Old Trafford we’re in a good position.

“I wouldn’t say the best position because we didn’t win, but we’re in a good position because we can go back and fight for every ball and hopefully we can progress to the quarter-finals.

“It’s all to play for. At 0-0, anything can happen. We’re confident against any team we play. Hopefully, we go back to Old Trafford and we can go through there.”

McTominay’s emergence in the squad this season will have given Mourinho something to think about. With Michael Carrick hanging up his boots at the end of the season, the Portuguese manager would need to delve into the transfer market in order to bring in a new central midfielder. There is also the fact that Marouane Fellaini’s contract expires at the end of the season, so there could be two spaces in the team which need to be filled.

Mourinho may not need to think too much about prospective additions in this area with McTominay stating his own case to be included with his performances recently. The 21-year-old was lauded for his performance in the 2-0 victory over Huddersfield Town in the Emirates FA Cup at the weekend and Mourinho was quick to praise the Academy graduate after his performance against Sevilla in the Champions League. Speaking after the match on Wednesday evening, Mourinho, speaking about McTominay, said:

“I went to the press conference and the questions were about Paul and I think the question should be about the kid [McTominay].

“He was fantastic, he did everything well. He put lots of pressure on Banega to stop him as a playmaker. He was always comfortable. I think he was brilliant.”

McTominay stated that ahead of the match against Sevilla, he did have some pre-games nerves but soon settled into the match which was played at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Many see the result as a poor one for United, but in a Champions League knockout stage clash, a 0-0 draw away from Old Trafford is a good result. Sir Alex Ferguson guided his team through a few of those in his 26-year spell as United manager, not just in Europe either. McTominay concluded by saying:

“Big nights, big occasions. That’s what you want in your career.

“They’re the things that make or break you as a footballer and I feel like it is how you deal with those situations that define you as a player and as a character on the pitch.

“Obviously nerves are only natural. It is how you deal with those nerves and it is how you put that on a football pitch.

“Once you’re out there, you just forget about it. It is a game of football on a pitch that you’ve played on before, so, you just take it from there, want to play your game and that is it.”

United will go head to head with Chelsea at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon, a match United will need to win considering they face the reigning Premier League champions before travelling to London to face Crystal Palace on Monday 5th March, then welcoming Liverpool to the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday 10th March.

Facing both Chelsea and Liverpool, two of the three teams close to United in the league table, will mean that Mourinho will need to find a way to beat both clubs, having only beaten both Tottenham Hotspur (1-0) and Arsenal (3-1) of the teams to finish in the top six in the league last season.

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