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Football

11th Feb 2024

Scott McTominay and Harry Maguire still there, still fighting

Patrick McCarry

Scott McTominay

“Harry, immense?”

Scott McTominay was the Manchester United match-winner, at Villa Park, but his post-match interview saw him lean into that super-sub role.

When Erik ten Hag replaced Marcus Rashford for McTominay, not long after Aston Villa had equalised in their Premier League encounter, many felt the Dutchman was trying to shore up midfield and gratefully take the draw.

United had looked good for their 1-0 lead but an injury to Luke Shaw saw him replaced by Victor Lindelof at the break. Leon Bailey put on his bib, smacked his lips and had the poor Swede for dinner. Lindelof is a decent centre-back but he’s no full-back and Bailey roasted him, on plenty of occasions.

Douglas Luiz turned home the Villa equaliser, then two match-altering changes were made. McTominay replaced Rashford while Unai Emery withdrew Bailey in the final stages. When it was all said and down, United pushed McTominay further up, got a couple of crosses in and the midfielder claimed all three points with a powerful header.

Following the game, it was McTominay and Harry Maguire – two players United tried to ship off to West Ham – that were the heroes. “The lads at the back were immense, to be fair,” McTominay told Sky Sports, “especially Harry and Raphaël [Varane].”

The Sky Sports interviewer seemed almost mirthful as he turned to Maguire – ‘Harry, immense? Kind words!’ – almost daring to ask the piñata defensive figure if he could believe it himself. “Nice words from Scott,” he said. “Great spirit and fight to come back into the game and, obviously, Scotty with the match-winner.”

It shows how the mighty had indeed fallen, even if Maguire is climbing his way back. McTominay, too.

Roy Keane on Scott McTominay

Roy Keane has been critical of Scott McTominay in the past but he paid the Scotland international his dues after Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa.

Earlier this season, Keane listed eight United players the club needed to ditch and named McTominay – along with Diogo Dalot, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Andre Onana – as others that were on their ‘last straw’ at the club.

While Keane did praise McTominay for his impact off the Villa Park ‘away’ bench, he did not shy away from what he believes the midfielder’s role is at United. Keane said:

“Erik ten Hag’s clear intentions for Scott, when he came on, was to try have an effect on the game, and he certainly did that.

“It was a brilliant ball from Diogo Dalot but sometimes, when a ball goes into the box like that, it’s about who wants it more, and Scott got across Matt Cash. It was a good goal, and he deserves it. He’s had a lot of critics, over the years, and question marks over whether he is good enough for Manchester United. At the moment, he’s a squad player but what you want from your squad players if when they get on the pitch, even if it’s off the bench, that you effect the game… that’s what he has done.”

Harry Maguire (a ‘ditch’ for Keane) getting Man of the Match and two ‘last straw’ players combining for the winning goal, in Diogo Dalot and Scott McTominay.

United are rounding into some decent form as we head into the final months of the season.

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