Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay has a role to play while he remains at the club.
There are some players Erik ten Hag is particularly keen to get rid of. Fred was left off the club’s pre-season tour and got his move. Donny van de Beek did not make the matchday squad for the season’s opening game, while Eric Bailly has been told he can leave for free if a club is willing to take him on.
Scott McTominay’s situation is very different. He is a player who United would consider letting go if a sizeable offer came in, but Ten Hag is more than happy to use while he stays at the club.
We saw this on Monday night when McTominay came off the bench in the final stages of Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Wolves.
Scott McTominay may be needed
Scott McTominay was a second half substitute as Manchester United sought to close out the game and take a more defensive minded approach.
In terms of defensive midfield help for Casemiro, he was all United had, and of course, we have seen over the years that this is not really McTominay’s best position, he thrives more in a box-to-box role when he too is able to get forward. But in comparison to other options, McTominay is the best Casemiro back-up United currently have.
And in matches where United need to be far less cavalier, McTominay will currently have a bigger role to play.
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United’s flaw against Wolves was the wide open spaces in midfield while Mason Mount and Bruno Fernandes pushed forward, creating a 4-1-5 formation in attack.
Erik ten Hag is expected to re-think for the visit to Tottenham this coming Saturday night, and McTominay is a possible solution. Until United add another defensive midfielder to the squad, the Scotland international has a role to play.
Away games were United’s flaw last season
Manchester United took only one point away against teams inside the Premier League top nine last season. Too often, the side were too open, and lacked the attacking quality to fight back.
Starting Scott McTominay alongside Casemiro may be United’s most sensible approach.
The much derided McFred midfield needed to be broken up, but it did at least provide a steady defensive base from which United to build.
It would be a bigger risk for United not to play McTominay this weekend than it would be to start him.
If that means only one of Bruno Fernandes or Mason Mount can start, or one has to feature out wide, then so be it.
After all the summer speculation, over his exit, it would be somewhat surprising if McTominay ends up with such an important role, but this is where the current squad composition has left us.