Scott McTominay is already the first name on Manchester United’s team sheet as he has become the leader of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, former Red Devils star Darren Fletcher believes.
McTominay has been praised all season long for some solid showings in the middle of the park, but he took his game to another level on Monday evening by scoring his first ever goal at Old Trafford against Arsenal.
His long-range strike whistled past a stationary Bernd Leno and into the top of the net, though Gunners midfielder Granit Xhaka has been criticised for allegedly ‘ducking’ out the way of the goal-bound shot.
McTominay’s goal showed he has more to his game than the skills typically associated with him, with the 22-year-old usually considered a good recycler of possession – but not much else.
He appears to be improving with every passing game, and Fletcher – a former team-mate of Solskjaer and one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s most reliable servants – believes McTominay has grown into Man United’s leader and is setting the example the rest of the club’s players must follow.
“He looks like the first name on the team sheet,” Fletcher told the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast. “From the games I’ve seen, like Leicester, it was a bit flat and he went thundering into a tackle and got the crowd up.
“He’s a little bit old school. He’s got drive and he gets on the ball and doesn’t hide.
“His goal was fantastic and he’s starting to find his voice as well; you can see his arms pointing at people and different things like that. It’s fantastic to see.
“Obviously he is the one who has confidence in his game now and he’s taken the onus on himself to drag the rest of the team with him.
“Credit to the lad because he was getting a bit of stick when he first came into the team, as everyone does as the pressure is big, but he’s come through that and now is definitely leading this Manchester United team.
“Others should look to him to know how to do it.”
McTominay is one of the key figures in Solskjaer’s attempt to introduce a new group of young players to the Man United squad, somewhat replicating the ‘Class of ’92’ developed by Sir Alex.
Though he broke into the Man United squad a few years after the likes of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and the Neville brothers, Fletcher is another success story of the Red Devils’ academy.
LIVE on talkSPORT
Check out all the live commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this week
- Leeds vs West Brom (Tuesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
- Lille vs Chelsea (Wednesday, 8pm) – talkSPORT
- Charlton vs Swansea (Wednesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
- AZ Alkmaar vs Man United (Thursday, 5:55pm) – talkSPORT 2
- Birmingham vs Middlesbrough (Friday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
- Brighton vs Tottenham (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT
- Fulham vs Charlton (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT 2
- Burnley vs Everton (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
- West Ham vs Crystal Palace (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT
And he believes the current plan of bringing youngsters into the first-team is misguided as Solskjaer is having to rely on these players – rather than having them supplement a squad full of mature and successful veterans.
Fletcher added: “The difference these young lads have got is that all those young players, and myself, we came into a team with men – established winners and world class players – who carried the burden and the pressure for us.
“We floated under the radar and it was easier.
“Whereas these lads are dealing with that pressure straight away themselves, and it is pretty difficult as a young player.
“You might have two or three good games but then a bad game as the consistency is not there yet.
“But the positives this season for Manchester United have been the young players – especially McTominay. He’s been a standout player from day one this season; he drives the team forward and tries to make stuff happen.
“It’s great for Manchester United’s future with the academy, but with young players you just have to be patient. And when you are playing for Manchester United not many people have got patience.
“That is the challenge laid down to them; they know that and they try their best and will get there, hopefully sooner rather than later.”