Manchester United’s chances of getting back into the top four battle could hinge on keeping Scott McTominay fit and healthy.
After back-to-back lacklustre draws against promoted sides Sheffield United and Aston Villa, McTominay’s return in the win against Tottenham Hotspur galvanised his teammates.
Despite missing two league games due to an ankle injury, there were few signs of rustiness in the 22-year-old’s game. He picked up where he left off and was at his influential best once more.
What does he bring to the team?
Just McTominay’s sheer presence is enough to elevate Fred’s performance level it seems.
The Brazilian midfielder did his best to impose himself against the promoted teams alongside his compatriot Andreas Pereira, but he missed his safety blanket and trusted partner.
United’s midfield lacks bite without McTominay. Teams can sense a weakness when the academy graduate isn’t martialling the United troops. He’s a leader, and having him there lets opponents know they won’t get an easy ride.
McTominay is evolving into quite the all round midfielder, he can drive forward from deep in possession, he presses, hassles, nicks possession, he loves to smash into people with crunching tackles and he can sense danger.
A notable against Tottenham was how he knocked Harry Kane off the ball and then confidently passed the ball off despite being under pressure from the striker. McTominay doesn’t seem fazed by the opposition, he knows he can compete against the very best and come out on top.
But most importantly he absolutely loves the football club and he leaves every ounce of energy on the pitch and fans absolutely feed off that.
You can see the pure elation on his face when we score goals and win games and the look of despair when we lose games or let concede late to let a lead slip.
Another positive trait he brings to the United side is that added bit of steel and needle, when Paulo Gazzaniga targeted his ankle with a blatant trip, McTominay went after the Spurs keeper to confront him.
There has been a tendency for United to rollover and have a soft centre, but with McTominay at he heart of United’s midfield, he leads by example and his importance to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side is growing in every game he does and doesn’t play.
Return of Pogba
The blossoming pivot partnership of McTominay and Fred has given Solskjaer the opportunity to unleash Paul Pogba in the number 10 role when he makes his comeback from injury.
However, if McTominay were to pick up another injury it would probably result in Pogba having to go back in the deep-lying playmaker role where he isn’t as defensively savvy and willing to work as hard for the team as McTominay.
McTominay has become United’s on-field captain and he will relish leading his beloved Manchester United into battle against our fierce rivals Manchester City this Saturday.
Pogba will improve United, but it is McTominay who has become irreplaceable. United’s season could well be defined by the availability of our number 39.
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