By Michael Burney
The new year always brings hope for a brighter future. In modern history, no year like 2021 has emphasised this notion more. The whole global crisis created by the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that 2020 has been a really hard time for almost everyone. The football world was, of course, not exempt from the knock on effects of the pandemic. However, there is one player who is fast becoming a key player for both club and country during such a terrible year.
The Manchester United and Scotland midfielder, Scott McTominay has improved year on year since making his first team debut for his boyhood club in 2017, and his country a year later. Despite being born in Lancaster, he opted to play for the country of his fathers’ birth, Scotland and it is a decision that the Tartan Army are certainly glad that he made.
Although being a forward and a more attack minded player during most of his youth career, McTominay has developed into a very good, solid and dependable midfield player. He can play the box to box role, can sit in front of the defence, and as he has shown on occasions at United, but more frequently for Scotland, he can play in a defensive unit. This versatility is a very desirable trait in the modern game.
It is not just McTominay’s footballing ability which is impressive, however. He is also a natural born leader. It is clear both on and off the pitch that he possesses the right mentality and attitude to make it at the highest level. When Jose Mourinho handed McTominay his debut for United, he did so knowing he was dependable and has the right mentality. At the end of his first season in the first team, Mourinho actually invented a new award at the clubs’ post season awards dinner, and awarded him the Managers’ player of the year.
No matter in which position or system McTominay plays he always gives a very assured performance and always gives 100% on the pitch. He has come up with some very important goals too, with the second in the derby victory against Manchester City at Old Trafford last season, just before the lockdown, and the brace against Leeds just before this Christmas.
In playing alongside Fred in the ‘pivot’ in front of the back four at United, he provides an energy, calmness and desire which has proved very effective. In having Michael Carrick on the coaching staff, you wouldn’t be surprised to see McTominay develop into a similar type of player, although comparisons with Darren Flectcher are glaring. Both are/were big game players and seem to turn up when it matters.
Whilst United are progressing both on and off the field since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took the reins at Old Trafford, the Scottish national side has also gone from strength to strength under the stewardship of Steve Clarke. In qualifying for the delayed European Championships this summer, Scotland have qualified for their first major tournament in 22 years, since France 98.
A key part of the team and the progression of the national side has been Scott McTominay. Alongside, Kieran Tierney, Andrew Robertson, John McGinn, Stuart Armstrong and others, Scotland have a good nucleus now of very talented players plying their trade in the English Premier League and for the two top sides in Scotland, Celtic and Rangers, which hasn’t been the case for a number of years. This bodes well for the immediate and long term future of the game for the Tartan Army.
This coming year promises to become a very important one for Scott McTominay with United now involved in the title race, and Scotland preparing for this summer’s Euros, with two games at Hampden Park and the other against the Auld Enemy England at Wembley. With his rate of progression so far, the desire of the player to improve and drive his teams towards success, 2021 could well be the year that he becomes a real key player for both club and country.