Manchester United head into the international break having claimed five wins from their last six games in all competitions, with manager Erik ten Hag having steadied the ship following the debacle at Brentford a few weeks ago.
A key factor in that recent turnaround has been the form of Scott McTominay, with the 25-year-old – who was on the bench against the Bees – having been an effective presence at the base of the midfield alongside the more creative, Christian Eriksen.
The Scotland international is somewhat proving the doubters wrong having been a much-maligned figure among supporters in recent years, with his partnership with teammate Fred so often berated on social media.
The 6 foot 4 brute has also been on the receiving end of stinging criticism from sections of the media and pundits in his United career thus far, with the academy graduate having been dubbed “not good enough” by club legend Roy Keane following the opening weekend defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion.
It had appeared that his regular role in the side would finally be at an end following the £70m capture of serial winner Casemiro from Real Madrid, with Premier League clubs having reportedly been waiting to pounce in the belief that he could be on the market following the Brazilian’s arrival.
As it has proved, however, McTominay has thus far managed to maintain his place in the side ahead of the summer signing in recent weeks, with Ten Hag having simply been unable to drop the imposing asset such has been his importance of late.
Acting as a screen in front of the back four, the £60k-per-week colossus has showcased his defensive strength in the past month or so, having notably impressed on the big occasion in the wins over both Liverpool and Arsenal.
Has McTominay impressed you this season?
No, not convinced
Such performances have showcased just why he was labelled a “physical monster” by former boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the past, having also been lauded as one of the “best midfielders in the world” by Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone back in February.
That glowing assessment – as well as the hefty interest in his signature over the summer – may well represent that McTominay has been an at times unfair scapegoat at Old Trafford over the years, with both fans and pundits alike not recognising his value to the side which from a numerical standpoint, stands at a whopping £70m.
The aforementioned Eriksen has also recently lauded his new teammate for his encouraging form of late, with the 34-cap menace set to prove hard to dislodge for the likes of Fred and Casemiro.
That addition of the latter man has handed the Lancaster-born giant a real battle to keep his place as the defensive-minded presence in Ten Hag’s side, although on recent evidence he is more than rising to the challenge.
For all the praise for the Red Devils’ new additions, it would appear that a man who emerged from the academy – and cost them nothing – is the one who is truly shining at present.