We’re in February within the 2023/24 season and Manchester United’s main goalscorer is a defensive midfielder who has began 12 Premier League video games.
Scott McTominay has been the hero for United on quite a few events this 12 months, most not too long ago reminding his forwards easy methods to rating by netting a late winner in opposition to Aston Villa after coming off the bench.
Having additionally proven a watch for objective at worldwide degree, United followers have begun to query whether or not McTominay’s future must be additional ahead on the pitch. Properly, ought to it?
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From his debut in 2017 as much as the tip of the 2022/23 marketing campaign, McTominay had scored a complete of 12 objectives in 144 Premier League video games. A good whole for a defensive midfielder.
This 12 months, nonetheless, McTominay has stepped it up. He has netted seven occasions in 21 outings, together with successful objectives in opposition to Brentford, Chelsea and now Villa. The Scotland worldwide has been prolific, usually getting into video games late on and popping up with game-deciding objectives.
He is averaging a objective each 172 minutes this season – just about one each two video games – in comparison with one each 752 heading into this marketing campaign.
If there was a easy reply to this query, defences could be stopping him. In reality, a mixture of attributes make McTominay a hazard within the field.
Whereas he is a defensive midfielder by commerce, McTominay loves getting ahead and boasts impeccable timing on the subject of late runs into the field. He clearly would not have the identical report as somebody like Frank Lampard, nevertheless it’s the identical type of attribute – that capability to sense house and predict the place the ball will find yourself.
Lots of McTominay’s objectives really feel as if he’s merely in the appropriate place on the proper time. When that occurs as soon as, it is success. Twice, and it is maybe the beginning of a development. At this level, nonetheless, not one of the midfielder’s objectives are coming by probability.
Fearless in his willingness to throw himself into headers, McTominay’s artwork of box-crashing chaos is simply that, an artwork.
On high of that every one, McTominay merely boasts a candy strike. He is aware of the place the objective is and is not afraid to drag the set off when it lands at his ft. Lots of his early objectives have been peaches from outdoors the realm, with McTominay all the time keen to check his luck.
There’s really fairly a very good comparability for United followers within the type of Marouane Fellaini, who referred to as Previous Trafford residence between 2013 and 2019. The skyscraper midfielder was recognized for his crunching tackles earlier than flashing a penchant for scoring, usually late on when given extra authority to get forwards, and his use as an emergency striker underneath Jose Mourinho was verging on meme territory on the time.
Nevertheless, when Fellaini was really performed in an attacking position which ought to, theoretically, assist him embrace his goalscoring, the Belgian wasn’t the identical participant, and that is as a result of the ability of scoring objectives as a midfielder is nothing like doing it as a pure striker.
Whereas McTominay’s aerial capability will all the time translate to objectives, what units him aside from the remainder is his late runs. The 27-year-old takes up house which has been vacated by a striker and is aware of easy methods to trigger overloads, and it is that capability which helps him rack up the objectives. Taking part in him at striker would waste that ability.
The thought of transferring to striker completely has by no means been publicly floated to McTominay, however the midfielder has beforehand addressed claims that he was really raised as a ahead.
“Folks all the time stated: ‘’You performed as a striker as a child’. I by no means performed as a striker,” he advised membership media earlier this season.
“I performed two video games there with [former Reserves coach] Warren Joyce as a result of we had no striker. So, every time I rating a objective, folks all the time say: ‘He was once a striker, that is why’.
“I by no means was once a striker! I’ve all the time been a midfield participant, a quantity eight, so it’s humorous if you hear stuff like that.”