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Scott McTominay is starting to find his feet at Manchester United and progressing well during his first full season

Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay has spoken about the importance for young players to ‘come out of their shells and find their voice’ when aiming to make a name for themselves when given the chance to play alongside professionals of the game. The 21-year-old started his breakthrough season at the Old Trafford club after being entrusted by manager Jose Mourinho during the pre-season tour of the United States of America, Norway, and the Republic of Ireland.

McTominay has made 17 appearances for his club this season, making his full debut in the 2-0 defeat against Arsenal at the end of last season. The Scotland international, choosing them over England earlier this month, aiming to make his debut during the international break later this month, has been trusted in some big matches recently, playing in the comeback victories over Chelsea and Crystal Palace, also the victory over Liverpool last weekend, dropped for the UEFA Champions League defeat against Sevilla, which saw United being knocked out of the competition.

Mourinho has given the midfielder the support and trust he needed to in order to get him into the team and performing, which he has done recently – a big miss against Sevilla on Tuesday evening. McTominay feels that his education on the clubs Academy, having been there since the age of nine, has helped him to prepare for life in the first team, him seemingly earning his plaudits as part of that team this season. Speaking to the clubs magazine, Inside United and reported by the official Manchester United website, McTominay said:

“Obviously, there are numerous different factors that have contributed in terms of my development but the main one is Jose Mourinho. He’s had the faith to put me in for important matches and trusted me in really big games. So all credit goes to him. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have had chances to play and show people I’m hopefully capable of being a Manchester United player in the future.

“There’s nothing better for me than being selected in the big games. The Champions League game at Sevilla, the Champions League game before that, Liverpool, Chelsea and even the other cup games as well. It’s really good for me to be trusted by the manager. I hope to repay him as he’s done really well to push me forward.”

McTominay is a great talent and despite his early days in the Academy, to the current day, he has seen some problems with injury and a growth spurt, which caused him some problems, it is great to see him take to the first team like a duck to water. During the pre-season tour, McTominay scored his first goal for the club, albeit not competitively, in the 70th minute against Valerenga in Norway, a 3-0 victory for United. He has also been praised by his teammates, such as Nemanja Matic and most recently Luke Shaw.

Shaw, an underused left-back at the club, recently spoke about McTominay’s more talkative approach in the dressing room. The English defender, who has made just 14 appearances for the club this season, spoke about it being a prime part of settling into the team, ensuring you are careful what you say. He also went into details of the dressing room being one big family and the banter is flying, so it is a great environment to be in, which is a good thing, especially for a player like McTominay, who is still in effect cutting his teeth. Shaw said:

“Yes, I think that’s the prime thing when you’re settling in. You just have to weigh it all up and be careful what you say, and you have to see who’s saying what. But, eventually, the lads just take you in any way, and you’re part of a big family and banter’s flying. So it’s a good environment to be in.”

Shaw also spoke about his teammates showing his leadership qualities, even in his position with fewer experience than most, which is a great sign about the footballing education he has received and the level of the lad’s confidence. It is an important attribute for any player, but especially for a central midfielder, a key position at the club, one which has seen many great occupy, such as Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, and Paul Scholes, among others. Shaw, concluding his thoughts about McTominay, said:

“Well, that’s what you want to be as a midfield player, in the heart of the pitch. You want to be the guy who’s helping every other player in the team out, and hopefully pushing the team forwards and winning as many games as possible. You’ve seen Axel Tuanzebe as captain of the Reserves and I feel like Axel has those traits as well. 

“That’s a big thing as a youth-team player who goes into the first team, you shouldn’t be shy about telling a more senior player what to do. If you think that’s what he should be doing then tell him. And, if he doesn’t, then you speak about it afterwards and you have a mutual respect for each other that stays off the pitch; when you’re on the pitch you do the best for the team. 

“All the young players, they’re not shy and they’re not worried about saying what they think. It’s a benefit for the team. If you’re a shy player in your shell then the team’s probably not going to progress with you in it. So you have to be like that and it’s a big asset to the team leadership.”

McTominay still has a way to go at Manchester United but his early progress is a sign of things to come for him. The fact that he does his job consistently, or at least did in those three victories in the Premier League, shows what he has to give. This season, McTominay’s 17 appearances in the Premier League, Carabao Cup, Emirates FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League, has seen him play 1,020 minutes of football this season, completing a full match ten times. His average rating in the monitored matches was 6.57, which needs to see improvement but is good nonetheless.

Defensively, McTominay has offered 0.7 tackles per match (in the Premier League and the Champions League), also offering 0.8 clearances, 1.3 interceptions and, 0.8 dribbles. In an attacking sense, McTominay has offered 0.4 shots per game (in the same two competitions), 0.2 key passes, 0.4 dribbles, and looking at where improvements could be made, he averages at 0.8 dispossessions and 0.3 bad controlling actions per match. His passing stats show he has an 88.9% passing success rate, passing on average 30.8 passes per game, including 1.3 long balls.

McTominay’s stats do not show that he is a world beater but they do show that he is developing and that he is starting to improve, winning the confidence of not only his manager but his teammates with supporters of the club recognising just what he is capable of. Many have seen that he should not have been benched in the 2-1 Sevilla defeat, using the in-form McTominay over the out-of-form Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini, who made his first start after around four months on the sidelines through injury.

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