Scott McTominay returned to the Manchester United starting line-up to partner Fred in midfield against West Ham.
It was the Scot’s first performance since coming off the bench and playing 20 minutes against Southampton in the second game of the season.
Following that match, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed the 24-year-old would be having groin surgery.
McTominay, who has been building his fitness up in training, played the full match at the London Stadium and gave United’s midfield that added bite and needle which is needed to get through tough away trips.
McTominay shows range of qualities against West Ham
Playing against Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice, McTominay wasn’t returning in a game where he could ease himself back in, he needed to be sharp and ready for battle.
The return of the ‘McFred’ partnership allowed Paul Pogba to be deployed further forward from the inside left position.
Similar to Rice, McTominay possesses the qualities to drive his team on and dominate the midfield.
Whereas Fred’s range of passing is more short-based and the Brazilian focuses on breaking up the play and recovering the ball for his team, McTominay can turn defence into attack with his ball carrying skills from deep.
But the Scotland international also has an eye for a pass and with Cristiano Ronaldo ghosting in behind Kurt Zouma, McTominay played a perfectly weighted pass into the 36-year-old, which had he controlled cleanly would have allowed him either another clean shot on goal or the opportunity to square to the onrushing Mason Greenwood.
That was one of two chances McTominay created yesterday, only Bruno Fernandes (3) and Luke Shaw (5) created more for United (WhoScored).
The Scot had 72 touches and completed 54 of his 58 attempted passes (93%).
When McTominay destroyed Leeds at home last season and scored twice in the opening three minutes, it was his lung-busting runs from deep, in behind Marcelo Bielsa’s side that they couldn’t cope with.
McTominay has both defensive and attacking qualities, but he isn’t a natural defensive midfielder like Nemanja Matic, instead the academy graduate is a box-to-box midfielder.
He is United’s hard man and loves a crunching tackle, but he would probably flourish further, playing in midfield alongside Rice, who is more defensively-minded and aware of danger.
But when United are coming under sustained pressure, McTominay, who can play at centre back and plays their for his national team, will dig in and put his body on the line for his beloved club.
McTominay was the only United player to register a tackle, interception, clearance and block a shot against the Hammers.
The 24-year-old is growing into an all-round midfielder and his return gives this United side an injection of both quality and grit.
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