A promising season for Scott McTominay ended as a disappointing one with the Scottish midfielder the club’s fourth choice central midfielder.
McTominay is behind Nemanja Matic, Fred and Paul Pogba when it comes to competing for the two central midfield positions behind Bruno Fernandes.
For the Europa League semi-final against Sevilla, McTominay was an unused substitute.
That will have hurt, especially as it was the third semi-final this season Manchester United played which McTominay played no part.
It followed the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea, in which while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made several changes to the team, McTominay was not among the starters. Again he was an unused substitute.
This was not how McTominay would have wanted to follow up his bad luck in January which caused him to miss the Carabao Cup semi-finals.
McTominay was in the best form of his career late in 2019 before suffering a knee injury, which caused him to sit out both legs against Manchester City.
Post lockdown problems
McTominay never quite re-established himself as a regular starter before the lockdown after his return from injury, although he was making encouraging steps.
Paul Pogba’s return to fitness knocked McTominay down the pecking order, although he did start the first game back, away at Tottenham.
Since lockdown, McTominay played in a total of 24 per cent of the minutes he could have.
Prior to the season’s halt, McTominay was selected to feature in 69 per cent of the minutes he was available for.
This is a substantial drop and demonstrates how McTominay has either slipped down the pecking order, or has simply been overtaken.
Freshness and added motivation
One of the positives to McTominay’s lack of game time is that he will be more fresh for next season.
With a packed fixture schedule expected, United will need players like McTominay who have extra energy and are not showing signs of fatigue.
He has plenty of motivation to try and force his way back into the team after his semi-final heartbreak.
One of the reasons McTominay was not selected was that he needs to sharpen his game defensively and offensively.
Solskjaer viewed that Nemanja Matic offers United better defensive protection, while the semi-final selection of a more attacking approach showed Fred was seen as a better attacking complement to Paul Pogba.
McTominay has to keep developing his game and find a way to outshine his teammates.
This was still a strong season for McTominay, who scored five goals for United, his best return yet. He needs to make sure next season is even better.
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