Differently from all his teammates, Scott McTominay has gone through difficult times during his academy years, facing injuries that could’ve possibly ended his Manchester United career. Back in 2008, the young Red conceded victory in Wembley with his schoolmates in their last year playing together, captaining his side in the tournament. His first half goal in the final won his school a trophy, something that just a few believed in the first place. McTominay at the time had joined the United academy aspiring to become a great footballer one day and now he is playing for the Reserves looking forward to his chance in the first team.
In the 2013/2014 season when he first featured for the U18’s, he only had one start for the side and came on as a substitute four times. The upcoming season McTominay started five times and came on as a substitute three times, but his promising start was ruined by an injury blow that was because of his development issues that didn’t let him feature in many games, as he developed late in terms of physicality. Aware of this, McTominay thanks his managers that have worked with him and have been patient in the process he has had to go through in an interview for MUTV:
“I think when I was 13 or 14, if I was at another club who weren’t as patient with me as I was smaller and not playing games, I think they might have thought: ‘We’ll just get rid of him’. I couldn’t fault United when I was growing up and how they treated me. How it’s panned out has obviously been really good.”
Having spent most of the times on the sidelines, not playing like most of his teammates, his frustration continued to grow and that helped him to keep fighting for a place in the team to prove he is worth it.
“It was such a tough period, I would say 18 months but it’s probably even longer than that. It was a long time I missed and it is tough getting yourself back up to where everyone else is. But that’s just the attitude you need to have. I think that’s the best thing that has ever happened with me.
“Obviously, I like the height I am at now and missing that time allowed me to go to the gym to get much stronger. I notice that on the pitch now.
“I was always getting brushed aside by other boys but now I can really compete with them. It might not have been good for me to play for my whole body in general but I’ve got the attitude I want to get stronger, quicker and more powerful.”
His story is incredible, as not a lot of youngsters would try as hard as he has, to keep his dream alive, making him an inspiration for many United youngsters that are facing the same issues he had to go through in his first years in the academy. Himself, Scott was inspired by two young Reds that are now regulars in the first team like Marcus Rashford and Lingard:
“That (Lingard’s story) was an inspiration for me. It just shows how far you can actually come. A lot of people may have written Jesse off when he was a lot younger and smaller and thought he might not be capable of playing at the top-level but look at him now, he’s done it.
“Marcus Rashford is another prime example. Marcus and I were in the Under-16s and we used to do 45 minutes each. We both weren’t capable of playing the full game. That was in the no.10 role and we’ve both moved positions; he’s gone up front and I’ve dropped back into midfield.”
It’s a struggle to enter the team, it’s a struggle to stay in it. That reference doesn’t fit perfectly to the first team only but the academy ranks as well since United have incredibly talented youngsters that fight for a place and McTominay knew that it was going to be hard. After struggling for the U18’s, this continued in the U21’s due to injuries and his debut for them came on January 2016 and he found the net for the first time for the Reserves against Blackpool in the Lancashire Senior Cup quarterfinal scoring the winner. McTominay also made two appearances in the UEFA Youth League in the group stages; in that Wolfsburg draw where he played for 70 minutes and played a full game against CSKA Moscow that didn’t end up well for Nick Butt’s side. Featuring for the Reserves last season, McTominay started six times and came in as a substitute five times, scoring just one time.
However, the bad times are past him now and he has become a key player for the Reserves and what could be his best season so far. Being one of the tallest in the team, something really important for him considering what he had to go through, McTominay seems to have taken all his chances to win the manager’s confidence to start for the Reserves. Former manager Warren Joyce has praised him for his incredible work, stating:
“Scott has just burst onto the scene and did well last season. He could be a proper box-to-box aggressive midfielder and we need to be mindful of that. He’s a really good footballer, technically sound with good skills and excellent in the keep-ball sessions.”
Since the Reserves have lacked striking force due to loan spells for most of the skippers, Warren Joyce used the Scott as a false ‘9’ and he seemed comfortable with that. However, he sees himself more of a box to box midfielder but doesn’t mind going forward and play in the attack if the manager would ask him to do so.
“I personally see myself going forward as a central midfielder, box to box. But wherever the manager asks me to play, I’m happy to do a job for the team. It’s not a problem but central midfield is my position. As a striker, whenever I get asked to play there, I want to score goals and I want to do well for the team.
“It is different having your back to the play all the time and different with the timing of runs going into the box but it can only be good for me when I’m in midfield, arriving in the box and getting on the end of things, so it’s all good development for me.”
The Reds lost against Oldham Athletic Athletic on penalties with Scott’s penalty being saved in that penalty shootout which the young Reds lost it 3-4. He did have a good game, missing a few chances as well.
This season, being more consistent, McTominay has started eight times, has scored twice and provided an assist as well. He inspired United in that 3-2 win against Derby back in September and also had a good performance in the International Youth Cup against Villarreal when he was closed on scoring but was denied twice by the goalkeeper. What’s most important for the young player is that he is settling well and is pulling some good performances in a side that is in need of inspiration and creative players that can have a huge impact in the game. With his teammates already having had chances in the first team under the reign of Louis van Gaal, Scott McTominay is looking forward to his chance. First, he needs to keep up the good moment avoiding long time injuries that may keep him out of the football pitch and wait for his moment.
With Donald Love’s departure, the 104 years old Scottish bond in the first team including managers and players came to an end, but Scott McTominay can revive it if he makes it to the first team. We are in a serious need to find Michael Carrick’s perfect replacement and there’s no need to look at transfer market for one as so far Sean Goss and Scott McTominay are the most suitable players among our academy ranks to replace him. Can this happen? If Carrick signs a new contract, he surely can help them grow and make their transition in the first team easier.