Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Norwich City was a reminder of many things. It stood for why Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford can be devastating when playing together. It told why Aaron Wan-Bissaka is probably the best defensive right-back in the Premier League. Among other things, it also showed Scott McTominay’s worth at Old Trafford.
Wan-Bissaka winning 11 tackles per game was special. Martial and Rashford scoring in one single game would have made many of the club’s faithful happy. However, few appeared to realise that even McTominay scored a goal. Perhaps, good performances have become normalcy for the 22-year-old.
While McTominay did make the error that led to Onel Hernandez’s first Premier League goal, he had a very good game overall. He won one tackle, completing as many as four dribbles – more than anyone else on the pitch (via WhoScored). The Scotsman also played the second-highest number of passes in the game, making 57 in total.
But United fans seem to have grown used to seeing the midfielder come up with tank-like performances. While the game at Newcastle wasn’t his best (although the Daily Star still provided him with top marks for his team), McTominay has done well in just about every other game.
Against Liverpool two weeks ago, he won two aerial duels and made just as many interceptions (via WhoScored). He made three clearances and setup Daniel James for the Marcus Rashford opener in the first half.
Against Arsenal, he scored United’s only goal. At West Ham, he was United’s best player in defeat. He completed three dribbles and won two tackles. He was never dribbled past even once and also won two aerial duels in the game (via WhoScored).
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In United’s 1-0 win over Leicester City, McTominay was, arguably, the best player on the pitch. He completed the highest number of dribbles per game for United, with four in total. He made two tackles and interceptions each (via WhoScored).
All that is probably enough to show what the player means to United. The way he tackles and goes about business in a no-nonsense fashion has come to be admired by many United fans already. Jose Mourinho was quick to spot something in him that no other manager could have and gave him his very own ‘Player of the Season’ award.
The faith that Jose entrusted in him gave McTominay the impetus to play well. He has become just the sort of grafter that Mourinho has loved over the past decade. He saw a player like Michael Essien in him – for his workrate and ability to cover a big amount of ground. He liked his fire and willingness to give his all.
Mourinho told MUTV (via BBC) after he gave McTominay his special award: “He started the season in the academy and ended it playing big games in the Premier League. I thought this kid cannot go home without an award.
“I always say that for me there are not young players or old players, it is just about the quality of the personality and this kid has everything that I want, so I think that it is good for the younger boys in the academy to look at him as an example of player.”
A club like United has always loved a player like this, as evident from how Ander Herrera was a fans’ favourite during his time. Indeed, being a youth product, the fans have a special connection with him that they may not have with anyone else.
United’s three summer signings have a similar attitude. None of Daniel James, Harry Maguire or Aaron Wan-Bissaka are superstars or gloated-over personalities. They are players who have risen up from humble beginnings, played at smaller clubs and made it big.
They are the sort of signings that United need.