International Soccer

Where Man Utd would be in the Premier League table without Scott McTominay’s goals

Back in the hazy days of August, Scott McTominay’s future was desperately uncertain.

West Ham had made multiple bids for a midfielder who was not deemed integral to Manchester United. There had been bright but brief bursts for the Scot during Erik ten Hag’s debut campaign but he was hardly a fixture in the team; the injury-riddled Anthony Martial started more league games last term.

McTominay had stumbled across a prolific patch in the slower pace of international football but his Premier League output remained pedestrian; Fred outscored his fellow midfielder before getting shipped out.

Ultimately, West Ham wouldn’t stump up the £40m United were demanding for McTominay. Based on the transformative effect of his goals this season, the once-unwanted midfielder would be worth a lot more now.

Rasmus Hojlund, Scott McTominay

Scott McTominay wheeled away to celebrate his latest winning goal for Man Utd against Aston Villa on Sunday / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

Date

Fixture

Score before McTominay’s goal

07/10/2023

Man Utd 2-1 Brentford

0-1

07/10/2023

Man Utd 2-1 Brentford

1-1

21/10/2023

Sheff Utd 1-2 Man Utd

0-0

06/12/2023

Man Utd 2-1 Chelsea

0-0

06/12/2023

Man Utd 2-1 Chelsea

1-1

01/02/2024

Wolves 3-4 Man Utd

1-2

11/02/2024

Aston Villa 1-2 Man Utd

1-1

McTominay may be United’s leading Premier League scorer with seven goals but that hasn’t guaranteed a permanent starting berth. Yet, it is his ability to impact a game he’s only just entered which has endeared him so deeply to Ten Hag.

“He is an example for many other players,” the Dutchman gushed after McTominay emerged from the bench to snatch an 86th-minute winner against Aston Villa on Sunday.

“He is always giving the spirit in the week when he is training as opposition, working on himself. He is ready for one minute, ready for 90 minutes. It is great to have such a player.”

While a more advanced position may be an option for the future, McTominay has proven to be devastatingly prolific bursting forward from midfield. Ten Hag has repeatedly sighted the 27-year-old’s “smell for when to arrive” in the opposition penalty box. This instinctive movement has seen McTominay outscore the likes of Liverpool’s Luis Diaz, Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli and Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva.

However, McTominay can leave a yawning chasm in United’s core if his surge does not end in a successful strike. That is a risk Ten Hag is willing to take.

“It is a matter of organisation,” Ten Hag has explained. “It is our job to make sure when he goes higher, other players play deeper. We have to make use of our players’ skills and attributes.”

So far, it’s been paying off for United.

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Stay up to date with the latest Manchester United news / Visionhaus / Getty Images

Scott McTominay, Erik ten Hag

Erik ten Hag is a big fan of Scott McTominay / Matthew Ashton – AMA/GettyImages

Pos

Team

Played

GD

Pts

1.

Liverpool

24

+32

54

2.

Man City

23

+31

52

3.

Arsenal

24

+31

52

4.

Aston Villa

24

+19

47

5.

Tottenham

24

+15

47

6.

Chelsea

24

+3

37

7.

Newcastle

24

+12

36

8.

West Ham

24

-6

36

9.

Brighton

24

+3

35

10.

Wolves

24

-1

32

11.

Fulham

24

-6

29

12.

Man Utd

24

-7

29

13.

Brentford

23

-3

28

14.

Bournemouth

23

-13

27

15.

Crystal Palace

24

-16

24

16.

Nottm Forest

24

-14

21

17.

Luton

23

-12

20

18.

Everton

24

-6

19

19.

Sheff Utd

24

-37

14

20.

Burnley

24

-25

13

Correct as of 12 February 2024

Thierry Henry once mused that goals scored in defeat should not count. McTominay has avoided any consolation efforts, with each one of his strikes this season decisive in the final scoreline. From just seven goals, McTominay has earned United an additional 12 points – more than any other Premier League player (per The Athletic).

McTominay’s influence was crystallised in the space of ten second-half minutes in October. Ten Hag introduced his secret weapon with United trailing Brentford in the 87th minute. McTominay scored the equaliser in the 93rd and stuffed the winner past Thomas Strakosha with 97 on the clock.

A breathless McTominay cited David Beckham’s Netflix documentary as extra inspiration for his game-changing cameo.

“I’m a fan myself,” McTominay grinned, “so I want to do well.” That he certainly has.

Without McTominay’s interventions, United would be languishing in 12th place rather than their actual position in sixth. Incidentally, United’s standing wouldn’t be the only dramatic change in a Scott-less table.

Chelsea were burned by McTominay’s unique brand of box-crashing in a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford in December. With those three extra points, the Blues would be inside the top six as opposed to the tenth place they currently occupy, such is the congestion in the second quarter of the Premier League table.

United’s victory over Chelsea highlighted McTominay’s reset priorities under Ten Hag. Despite theoretically lining up as part of United’s midfield double pivot in a 4-2-3-1 alongside Sofyan Amrabat, McTominay registered more shots than successful forward passes.

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