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The Rise and Pause of Scott McTominay

The Rise and Pause of Scott McTominay

The Rise and Pause of Scott McTominay

McTominay: seven managers and still going strong

Recent form of Scottish midfielder, Scott McTominay, underlines his importance to the Old Trafford outfit.

McTominay increased his stature during Louis van Gaal's tenure; the Dutch manager of Manchester United appointed for the 2014-15 season's campaigning after the qualified success of his stewardship of the Netherlands' national side at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.

Holland finished in third place, subsequent to losing at the semi-final stage to Argentina, 4-2, on penalties, a.e.t., 0-0, at Arena Corinthians, São Paolo, but beat Brazil, who'd lost to eventual winners, Germany, 7-1, in their Belo Horizonte, Estádio Mineirão semi-final.

Although Germany had beaten Argentina 1-0, in the Final in Rio de Janeiro, Estádio do Maracanã; Holland had beaten Brazil 3-0, which was enough for the 'red devils' to appoint van Gaal as successor to former Everton boss, David Moyes, who’d always appeared a curious replacement for Alex Ferguson, as Moyes' only claim to fame was to keep 'The Toffees' from relegation. When David's team lost the 2013-14 League Cup semi-final at home to Sunderland, 1-2, on penalties, van Gaal's appointment seemed fated.

Moyes took the reins on July 1st 2013, and McTominay signed his first professional contract with the club in that same month. Scott spent his time under Moyes struggling due to his small size. McTominay made 22 starts, scoring 3 goals, for the U-21s in 2016-17, which brought him to the notice of Mourinho, who gave him his first appearance in a blue shirt on May 7th at Arsenal's North London Emirates Stadium, Islington, coming on for Spain’s left footed inside forward, Juan Mata.

Scott got his first start on the last day of the 2016-17 league campaign, with the squad already EFL Cup winners against Sunderland, 3-2, and after the English Premier League season was over would go on to beat Ajax of Amsterdam, 2-0, on May 24th in the Europa League Final at Friends Arena, Stockholm, Sweden. With a view to minimizing the possibility of injuries, Mourinho gave opportunities to several more young players in the victory against Crystal Palace on May 21st at Old Trafford; midfielder Josh Harrop, who scored after 15 minutes, twisting and turning on the left of the 20 yard box, cutting inside onto his right foot to unleash an unstopped screamer; Swiss born 'keeper and Portuguese international, Joel Pereira,  left back Demetri Mitchell, and Angel Gomes, then the club's youngest Premier League player, 16 and 263 days.

McTominay made 7 starts in 2017-18, and 6 appearances as substitute, during the club's league campaign, in which they finished runners up on 68 points, a long way 2nd behind Manchester City on 106, and Scott was on the substitutes' bench for the F.A. Cup Final defeat to Chelsea, 0-1, when a perfectly good goal from Chilean center forward Alexis Sánchez was disallowed after the ball, pushed out by the 'keeper, was stabbed home with grateful aplomb at close range. 

Brought from Arsenal on January 22nd, 2018, in a swap deal for Armenian captain and right wing, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, scorer of the second goal against Ajax with an overhead kick on 48 minutes in the 2017 Europa Cup Final, after France's Paul Pogba had opened the scoring with a long range deflected strike on 18 minutes, on 2 league goals for the term from 12 starts, Alexis would be transferred to Italy's Inter Milan, following a period on loan in 2019-20, after scoring once in 9 starts and 11 appearances for United in 2018-19. 

Mourinho’s departure and Alexis’ arrival were linked inextricably. Leaving on December 18th, 2018, with just 7 wins in 17 games, to be replaced by former striker, manager of Norway's Molde, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Solskjaer upheaval doubtless assisted McTominay, 9 starts and 7 appearances for 2 goals in 2018-19. Of the established midfield players only Pogba, winner of the World Cup in Russia with France in 2018, 4-2 against Croatia, at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, and top scorer in 2018-19 with 13 goals, seemed unchallengeable. While Moroccan Marouane Fellaini, brought with him from Everton by Moyes for his height and vision in support of the attack for £27.5m, and Serbia's defensive midfielder, Nemanja Matić, bought by Mourinho from Chelsea for £40m for 2017-18, were over 30 years, at 29 Spain's playmaker Ander Herrera, 'man of the match' in the 2017 Europa Cup Final defeat of Ajax, bought by van Gaal for his first 2014-15 season for €36m, was approaching 30, which suggested right footed McTominay, then 22 years, who could double as a center forward if necessary, had a future alongside left footed Brazilian, Fred, age 25, bought by Mourinho from the Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk on July 1st, 2018 for £47m.

The 'McFred', as it was called by fans, would flourish, while Fellaini, appeared only twice as a substitute before being transferred to China's Shandong Luneng Taishan. Herrera, given a free to Paris Saint-German, won the French double of league and cup twice in 2019-20 and 2020-21. Matić, though his tenaciousness on the pitch survived Solskjaer's purge, his age couldn't. Freed by Solskjaer's Dutch successor for 2022-23, Ajax of Amsterdam's boss Erik ten Hag, Nemanja joined Roma for 2022-23 at 34, where opposite another casualty of ten Hag's purge, loaned to Spain's Sevilla for that season, Brazilian left back, Alex Telles, bought by Ole for £14.5m from Portugal's Porto, runner-up in the 2023 Europa Cup Final against Sevilla, Matić also made way for McFred.

Solskjaer's failure in four semi-finals and the 2021 Europa Cup Final on May 26th at Gdańsk Stadion, Poland, against Spain's Villarreal was the cause of his dismissal. The McFred partnership lasted until ten Hag's taking over from former German boss at RB Leipzig, Ralf Rangnick, interim manager, appointed in December 2021, with Brazil’s hard-bitten attack-minded creative midfield destroyer, Casemiro, being brought from Real Madrid for £60m, while the emergence of calmly composed controller, new precocious midfield talent, left footed teenager, Kobbie Mainoo, was enough to convince ten Hag to transfer Frederico Rodrigues de Paula Santos, otherwise known as ‘Fred’, on August 13th, 2023, for €9.74m to Turkish Süper Lig club Fenerbahçe for their 2023-24 season, which effectively dismantled the McFred engine room.

With McTominay being earmarked for the role that England star, Paul Scholes, had formerly in midfield, as the player freed by the holding midfielder to go forward in support of the attack and score, Bruno Fernandes' 8 goals in 14 starts, with Marcus Rashford, 17 goals, and left footed inverted right winger, Anthony Martial, 17 goals, ahead of him, indicated a change in the way McTominay's midfield role could develop.

In the F.A. Cup semi-final the team lost 3-1 to Chelsea, with Fernandes’ consolation penalty on 85 minutes, after winger, Callum Hudson-Odoi, appeared to kick at Martial. The absence of McTominay from the semi-final starting line-ups in favor of Fernandes' diamond signified Solskjaer's preference for the then apparently unchallengeable left foot of Pogba alongside Fred for the latter stages of the cup competitions. 

Erik Ten Hag then arrived and brought Danish ball player Christian Eriksen, for 25 starts and 3 appearances from Brentford on a free, and until the emergence of Mainoo in 2023-24 the pairing with Casemiro seemed most likely, with Pogba age 32 released to return to Juvé on June 30th, 2022. Ronaldo, age 37, was also released to Saudi club Al Nassr in November 2022.

The arrival of Moroccan international, defensive midfielder, Sofyan Amrabat for £8.5m from Italy's Serie A club Fiorentina, together with England's attacking midfielder, Mason Mount, from Chelsea for £55m, put further pressure on McTominay, survivor of seven managerial purges.

Luke Shaw, due a testimonial at the end of season 2023-24, as are Martial and Rashford for playing at 'the theater of Dreams' for a decade at the close of 2024-25, which is a true yardstick of success. While 2023-24 is only McTominay's 8th year hoping to wear away a red strip.