Scott McTominay’s resurgence has been a notable storyline of the season, marked by a crucial late double against Brentford that solidified his place in the starting lineup.
However, his role has predominantly been that of a box-crasher rather than a conventional midfielder, contributing vital goals but at a significant cost to possession balance.
In the recent lackluster loss to Newcastle, where United finished with only 42% possession, McTominay touched the ball merely 30 times throughout the match, which extended beyond 100 minutes.
For comparison, Bruno Fernandes, playing a more advanced role, had 64 touches, emphasizing the disparity in involvement.
Even when United gained control of the ball in the latter stages, McTominay’s impact remained limited. Kobbie Mainoo, subbed off 20 minutes before the final whistle during United’s increased ball dominance, still managed 46 touches.
This underscores the inherent limitations of McTominay’s game. While effective in scoring goals due to his positioning and anticipation in the box, he doesn’t address United’s fundamental issues but rather conceals them.
With a lack of ball-retainers and a clear playing style, United often relies on individual brilliance or numerical box overloads to score.
In this context, McTominay’s tendency to leave the buildup, avoid showing for the ball, and instead make blind runs into the box resembles the approach of hiding underlying team flaws rather than rectifying them.
In essence, when United isn’t dictating possession, McTominay’s contribution becomes akin to playing with 10 men, reminiscent of a modern-day Marouane Fellaini—more refined but fulfilling a specific and limited role.