Scott McTominay, who first became involved with Manchester United when he was just five-years-old, has enjoyed a surprising rise since Jose Mourinho started playing him in the first team. Having never represented any international team at youth level and not setting the world alight when in the club’s academy, it was a shock to some to see the faith the United manager put in him.
However, McTominay has largely done well in United’s first team, with his stand out performance coming in our 2-1 win over Chelsea at the weekend. While at fault for Chelsea’s goal, when failing to continue tracking Willian, he marked Eden Hazard out of the game. He still has plenty to learn but his ability to follow Mourinho’s instructions has put him in good stead.
McTominay was born in England but has lots of Scottish family. He has previously claimed he felt more Scottish than English and has been involved in their youth camps. In November, interim manager Malky Mackay, who is now the SFA performance director, asked McTominay to be involved in Scotland’s game against Holland, but he turned down the opportunity to focus on club football.
Reports today suggest that England manager Gareth Southgate is set to meet the youngster on Friday to try to convince him to play for his country of birth.
Southgate has been a big fan of McTominay’s teammate, Jesse Lingard, and included him in England squads long before his rise to good form this season. Having managed England U-21s, Southgate was familiar with Lingard’s capabilities.
The England manager has never worked with McTominay before but knows the sort of work ethic he’ll get from someone who has graduated from United’s academy.
Scotland’s manager, Alex McLeish, travelled to Carrington on Thursday to try to sway his allegiance, so now Southgate is going to make his pitch.
This is quite a remarkable turnaround given neither country were interested in playing him at youth level. However, in the space of two years, Scott McTominay has grown 14 inches, which has allowed him to become Mourinho’s ideal Marouane Fellaini replacement.
Mourinho has spoken to McTominay about his international future and told him to follow whichever path feels right to him. You can’t help but think he would get more playing time for Scotland but their repeated failure to qualify for international tournaments might make him consider an England future.
“I’ve given him my advice but I think the advice of his parents is more important than mine,” Mourinho said last week. “His own heart is more important than my advice, because mine is purely from a career point of view. More important than his career is his feeling, his family’s feeling and also the overall situation with him.”
Squads for the next round of international games are set to be announced next week, which has sparked the recent flurry of interest.