Scott McTominay’s big-game performances have belied his inexperience, with fellow midfielder Nemanja Matic predicting a big future for the “amazing” Manchester United talent.
Having first caught United’s eye at the age of five, the Lancastrian has gone on to overcome injury and followed his surprise debut last May by heading on United’s pre-season tour of America.
There he impressed off the bench against Real Madrid before netting his first senior goal against Valerenga in Oslo.
Promising displays were rewarded by a place in Jose Mourinho’s first-team squad, with the 21-year-old enjoying a standout February in which he took his appearances for the campaign to 15.
McTominay’s selection ahead of club-record signing Paul Pogba for last week’s Champions League clash at Sevilla underlined Mourinho’s trust, as did his starting role in Sunday’s 2-1 comeback win against Chelsea.
The inexperienced midfielder’s performances have seen him shortlisted alongside David De Gea and Romelu Lukaku for United’s player of the month award, as well as earning admiration from team-mates.
“He is amazing,” Matic said after beating Chelsea on Sunday, when McTominay made just the 10th competitive start of his career.
“He is 21 and to play like that and control the game like that is impressive. He will be a big player for Manchester United.
“I like him because he is a very nice guy and he doesn’t have a problem to ask before the game something and I am always there to help him.
“When I came to Manchester I saw within a few days he would become a top player.
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“He is working very hard, but I don’t want to say too many things about him because he is still very young. But he deserves all the good things.”
Matic knows better than anyone at United what it takes to play in midfield under Mourinho, who he worked with at Chelsea before joining him at Old Trafford in the summer.
The Portuguese called Matic a “Jose Mourinho player” upon his arrival, so what does the Red Devils boss demand from a midfielder?
“To fight for the team and not to let the opponent big space to play,” the two-time Premier League winner said.
“And this is what Scott and me did (against Chelsea).”
McTominay’s rise could now lead to an international tug of war between England and Scotland, having not previously represented either nation at any level.
A late developer who rocketed from 5ft 6ins to a 6′ 4” in recent years, the midfielder has retained his ability on the ball during that growth spurt and has impressed team-mates like Chris Smalling from the outset.
“He’s been training with us for quite a while, even last season,” the United defender said.
“But he’s been sort of thrust into some big games, be it Seville or here, and he’s not phased.
“You can see him crunching into tackles and that’s what we do in training. He goes through people.
“It’s good that he’s stepped up to his mark.”