Scott McTominay hit the ground running on his return to the Manchester United side against Tottenham and Everton.
He was especially impressive in the derby as he helped shut down Kevin de Bruyne from making an impact.
Against Everton, United did not quite click, and neither did McTominay. But it was not through lack of effort.
McTominay looked tired at times, misplacing passes to put teammates under pressure. The positive was that he did not shy away from the physical battle.
Everton turned up in their manager’s image, with Duncan Ferguson urging his team to tackle hard and fight for every header.
McTominay responded by winning six aerial duels, three more than Victor Lindelöf. Only Harry Maguire (12) in United’s team managed more.
The other big positive part of McTominay’s play was going forward. He managed to create four chances, more than any United player.
Both Fred and Dan James followed, with three key passes each, statistics from Whoscored.com shows.
McTominay also made three tackles, more than any United player than Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and two interceptions.
Not quite a complete performance
While all of this was positive for McTominay, he still fell short of putting together a complete display to drive United to the win.
He was sloppy in possession, completing on 76 per cent of his passes, and gave away three free-kicks.
The young Scot can do better, and some of this can probably be attributed to being too hasty and anxious in wanting United to win, in addition to tiredness.
This was a game United really needed to win to close points on Chelsea in fourth and a draw was not ideal. We are four points off fourth when it could have been two.
United now have a decision to make over whether McTominay should play in midweek in the Carabao Cup against Colchester.
He was picked against Chelsea in the last round which showed how seriously United are taking the competition.
Now in the quarter-final stage, under-estimating Colchester could be a big error, especially after the way Rochdale gave us a fright in the earlier round.
McTominay will be up for the physical battle if that’s what Colchester bring, and his creative efforts may bring more reward.
- One way around Brooks and Sarr conundrum is for United to buy both
- Reaction to United’s £90m Jadon Sancho take it or leave it plan
- Report: Manchester United want to do Alex Telles deal for £12 million
- Predicted Manchester United XI v Brighton
- Photo: Manchester United star Axel Tuanzebe steps up recovery