Youth team players and the system of bringing through the ranks young footballers symbolises Manchester United’s philosophies. It is a value that embodies the history of the club, and the belief in youth has continued throughout the years through to the present day, the current ‘kid’ being Scott McTominay.
Despite playing internationally for Scotland, McTominay is a local lad, born in Lancaster in 1996, he joined United in 2013 where his journey through the ranks in a red shirt began. The end of the 2016/17 season saw the young Scot break into the first team after being on the subs bench against Swansea, he made his senior debut on 7th May 2017 when he came on as a substitute in the later stages of the match. A full debut followed, and an impressive mature performance in central midfield, in the final game of the 2016/17 season against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford.
This season, the youngster has impressed Jose Mourinho so much that the United manager has installed every faith in his midfield teen by handing him eleven appearances in the first team. Perhaps even more significantly, McTominay has made some big-match starts against Chelsea and in the Champion’s League verses Sevilla, showing just how much Mourinho rates the Scotland international (he made his Scottish debut last month against Costa Rica – another triumph for the Lancaster lad).
Compared in many ways to Michael Carrick, McTominay’s control of the midfield and forward passing has caught the eye of many. He was only nine years old when Carrick signed for United, fast-forward eleven years, May 2017 and the youngster came off the bench to play along side Carrick who was then making his 455th Manchester United appearance. A fantastic experience and achievement to play along side a club great, and someone to aspire to, and aspire he will, McTominay has all the attributes needed to be a successful United player and to become a midfield maestro.
However, it hasn’t been all plain sailing for McTominay. Despite showing great footballing skills, his wasn’t as big and robust as his peers when competing through the ranks at United. The youngster believes if he had been at another club, they wouldn’t have been so patient with him and he may well have been released, but the academy staff at the club nurtured him and worked incredibly hard to get McTominay from a 15 year old on the weaker side of the other young players, to a stronger player now staking a claim in every first eleven team sheet Jose Mourinho draws up on match days.
Former United youth-team coach Paul McGuinness was one of the people who was patient with the Lancaster lad and saw his potential even when he was worried about making his breakthrough due to his size. McGuinness’ belief and advice for the Scot was to ‘take it step by step, keep going, keep plugging away and never give up because we see something in you.’ These words undoubtingly gave the young player the confidence to ‘plug away’ and aim for the top with a club and personnel that believed in him.
McTominay signed his first professional contract with Manchester United in July 2013, and despite his ever present talent, it was a struggle for him in the under 18 and 19 teams due to injuries and his size. However, it all came together during the 2016/17 season in the under 21 side where McTominay made 21 appearances and netted 4 goals. His move up to the first team was his reward for solid mature and excellent control of the centre of the midfield, in fact, Jose Mourinho put so much trust in his young player that he gave him a first team start ahead of United record signing Paul Pogba in a 2-0 win at Old Trafford against Huddersfield on 3rd February. He played a full 90 minutes, looking like he was an established player that had played in the United starting eleven for years.
Out of the 12 games McTominay has appeared in for United’s first team this season, the team have won 10, with the young midfielder completing a 100% tackle success so far as a first eleven player proving how valuable his contribution has been to that 10 match winning run.
The praise for Scott McTominay couldn’t have been higher since his rise to first team success. Ex-United winger and legend Ryan Giggs described his performance against Chelsea as ‘assured, brilliant and one of the outstanding performances.’ Jose Mourinho has also paid the young Scot an array of compliments; ‘He has maturity, he’s calm, he can play against champions, play knockout in the Champions League, and pass those two tests by the mental approach, he has his feet on the ground, he is going to have a very good career.’
So, the future is looking bright for United’s latest academy player to make it into the first team. Judging by his performance on the pitch, the fine words spoken about him by football legends, this great Scot is going to have a great career as a United midfield dynamo.