Tag Archives: Scott McTominay

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s lack of in-game management costs Man United again

Manchester United conceded a late set-piece goal once again to gift AC Milan an away goal in their Europa League last 16 game as the sides drew 1-1 at Old Trafford.

United overcame a tough start thanks to a questionable VAR decision when Franck Kessie’s fine strike was ruled out for handball, despite replays seemingly showing the ball never struck his arm. A shocking first half performance from the home side came to an end and saw Anthony Martial substituted with an injury, allowing Amad Diallo to come on at half-time.

It took less than five minutes for Amad to make his mark, as he broke the deadlock with a beautiful looping header over Gianluigi Donnarumma after an excellent pass from Bruno Fernandes. The Reds barely threatened after that though as Milan bossed the midfield and eventually found an equaliser in stoppage time thanks to a Simon Kjaer header from a corner, which Dean Henderson should have done better with.

It would be wrong to suggest that Milan didn’t deserve a draw at the very least from the game, but when you consider that United were ahead in the 92nd minute it automatically tells you that it was their game to win.

After brining on Amad at half-time, Ole made a further three changes in the game. All at the same time, with around 20 minutes to go and with the Serie A side in the ascendancy he opted to take off Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka and replace them with Fred, Brandon Williams and Luke Shaw.

That instantly handed the initiative to Milan, who were now essentially invited into United’s final third to sustain pressure on their goal. While they didn’t create many clear-cut chances up to the goal, it was the intent of the substitutions that changed the game even moreso into the Italian’s favour.

You’d have thought that Solskjaer would have learnt from past mistakes, too. Against Everton recently he brought on Axel Tuanzebe to try and see out the game with the Toffees in the ascendancy and they scored in the 95th minute from a free-kick being swung into the box. Going back further the same thing happened against Southampton at Old Trafford last season, with the Reds dropping points thanks to an injury time Michael Obafemi goal from a corner.

Rather than trying to get some control of the game to see it out, he chose to just flood the pitch with defensive players. That meant that even when they did get on the ball they had no outlet and the ball just ended up going straight back to Milan for their attacking to start again.

Manchester United v A.C. Milan - UEFA Europa League Round Of 16 Leg One : News Photo

It says something that with one set of substitutions, Solskjaer managed to go from 1-0 up with a balanced 4231 formation to a 5-3-2 formation with three left-backs on the pitch and his starting defensive midfielder playing as the most advanced midfielder now, with the two players who’d started their evenings on the right wing now playing as strikers.

These decisions change the entire mentality of the team on the pitch, almost admitting to them that they’re going to have to dig in for this result now rather than continue to play as they were.

To be clear too, there is nothing wrong per-say with making defensive substitutions so long as you don’t outright change the mentality of the team. Bringing on Fred for Bruno alone would have done the same job he was intending to do but still would have had three attacking players and a back-four. Different personnel, but mostly the same shape – just a bit of control and sturdiness added to a side that were holding on to a short lead.

As United continue to concede these late goals, especially from set-pieces, and the manager continues to make odd in-game decisions that negatively effect the outcome of games, they cannot progress to the level they want to at the business end of the season.

A game that was entirely theirs to lose has now been thrown away and it’s advantage Milan heading to the San Siro for the second leg next week.


Manchester United through to FA Cup quarter-finals despite poor display

It was a dismal affair that lasted 120 minutes, but Manchester United came away with a win over West Ham to progress to a record seventh consecutive FA Cup quarter-final thanks to a Scott McTominay goal.

The two sides cancelled each other out in 90 minutes, with Marcus Rashford missing arguably the best chance of the game in the second half when Lukasz Fabianski denied him from close range.

With United pushing for a winner in extra-time it finally came after a counter-attack and with the ball headed to Rashford by Thomas Soucek, the England man laid it off for an on-rushing McTominay to blast into the net for his seventh goal of the season.

United saw out the rest of the tie relatively comfortably and will be in the last eight of the competition once again.

It was another decent performance from the Scot, who has found some good form in recent weeks and has now matched Anthony Martial’s tally for the season.

It seems to be a new role for McTominay, with Solskjaer seemingly letting off the leash a little bit more and allowing him to break closer to the box more often. Being allowed to use his engine more and being closer to the box has seen him be able to use his great ball striking technique to greater effect too.

Defensively, McTominay is still a bit shifty. He isn’t the greatest when it comes to reading the game and often waits for far too long to close the opposition down or engage in a tackle. His skillset seems more accustomed to a box-to-box role rather than the holding midfield role we have seen him deployed in more often than not.

Fred had an absolute stinker in midfield during the game, with his pressing completely off and often misplacing passes that should have been relatively simple to complete. It was a real wonder that he was kept on the pitch for 90 minutes, as it was Nemanja Matic who was replaced as United chased the game.

Another disappointing performer was Donny Van de Beek, who got a rare start in the number ten role with Bruno Fernandes rested.

The Dutchman really struggled to stamp any sort of authority on the game and despite picking up some decent positions, he doesn’t have the aura around him that Fernandes does to demand the ball from his teammates.

Manchester United v West Ham United: The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round : News Photo

It meant that he was often bypassed for the safer pass and meant his impact was minimal. He was substituted at the same time as Matic, with Fernandes coming on and instantly the team began to move the ball quicker and into more dangerous areas.

There was almost a feeling of a lack of trust between Van de Beek and his fellow teammates, whereas Fernandes has seemingly earned the status in the side that the team believe he can make something happen at any point and thus give him the ball no matter what.

With Paul Pogba out injured for the next few weeks with a thigh problem, this was the former Ajax man’s chance to stake his claim for a more regular spot but instead he showed many why Solskjaer’s decision to leave him out is justified right now.

Despite the poor performance, in a cup competition the result is always more important and progression to the next round is now secured. The Reds will travel to the Hawthorns on Sunday to take on West Brom and can expect a similar type of game, with their opponents likely to sit deep and defend for their lives.

United will need to be better than they were in this game if they want to break Sam Allardyce’s men down in that game and keep as close to Manchester City as they possibly can in the title race.

Bruno Fernandes Continues To Divide Opinion Despite Match-Winning Display vs Everton

Manchester United bounced back from back-to-back defeats with an impressive 3-1 win over Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Toffees took the lead through Brazilian winger Bernard, but two goals from Bruno Fernandes turned the game on it’s head and had Manchester United ahead before half-time. A counter attack in stoppage time saw Fernandes also supply an assist for Edinson Cavani, as the substitute scored his first goal for the club to wrap up the three points.

Despite the two goals and assist, Fernandes rightly earned some criticism online and from the commentators for an erratic performance. He lost possession 22 times and could easily have been sent off for two yellow cards after making some questionable tackles after being booked in the 50th minute.

Everton v Manchester United - Premier League : News Photo

He also made some odd decisions, shooting from 40 yards from a free-kick late on as well constantly looking to force a final pass rather than just retaining possession as the game hung in the balance.

It’s a criticism that isn’t new for Fernandes, with many fans growing tired of the turnovers he produces considering a large portion of his goals have come from the penalty spot.

In games where the rest of the team weren’t performing, his inability to help control a game and keep the ball has become a thorn in the side of a team struggling for results more recently. A game such as today though, proved why many refuse to accept that he needs to be dropped from the team.

The reality is somewhere in the middle. Yes, Fernandes is incredibly effective and productive from a midfield position. Yes, he has quality in the final third and yes, it’s something that Manchester United have dearly missed.

It’s also true though, that Fernandes gives the ball away far too often, makes bad decisions far too often and doesn’t need to play the game at 100mph as he usually does.

All those things are true, at the same time, and not exclusive to an opinion of the player leaning one way or the other.

With Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side almost exclusively relying on individual quality as an attacking plan when not counter attacking, he seems to have found more of a balance in the side when Scott McTominay and Fred are banked behind Fernandes.

The duo act almost as an insurance policy for his errors, with Solskjær seemingly accepting the fact that those flaws are just part of his game. Maybe some fans need to start doing the same.

What is clear is that Manchester United do not win that game against Everton without him in the side. Are his flaws frustrating? Absolutely. Are they avoidable? Absolutely. Are they necessary? Probably not.


Manchester United aren’t in a position right now where they can pick and choose how their goals come. In a period where the more technically sound midfielders in Paul Pogba and Donny Van De Beek can’t get in the team (rightly or wrongly), Fernandes’ goal contributions become even more invaluable.

In an ideal world, Fernandes is able to keep up these numbers while turning in performances that are pleasing on the eye while also not littered with mistakes. If he keeps scoring and creating goals in this manner though, United need to find a way to change the team to make it okay rather than stifle him and potentially lose what he brings to this side.

Football is a simple game. Right now, Fernandes on the pitch seems to equal goals or assists. Goals and assists win you games. That is what Manchester United need more than anything right now – to win games.

Same Ole Problem For Manchester United After Defeat To Arsenal

Another fixture at Old Trafford, another result that isn’t a win for Manchester United in the Premier League.

Arsenal came to the Theatre of Dreams and turned it into a nightmare for Ole Gunnar Solskjær as they controlled the game and took all three points for the first time since 2006 thanks to a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty.

It was another performance where Manchester United looked completely bereft of a plan and of any quality to sufficiently hurt a team who were set up to frustrate them and organised enough to see a game plan all the way through.

New signing Thomas Partey absolutely dominated the midfield for Arsenal, despite playing in a two-man midfield against Manchester United’s diamond formation. All four of United’s midfielders had awful games, with Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes epitomising the lack of quality during the game.

Fred and Scott McTominay also started and once again proved why they shouldn’t be regular starters for a team looking to compete at the highest level, with the ball-playing abilities shown up for all to see.

Post-game, it was another case of blame being shifted on to all the players and away from manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær despite him receiving all the praise when the team performs well.

The 5-0 win over RB Leipzig in the week was fantastic, with the diamond formation working superbly well. But that performance was the anomaly under Ole Gunnar Solskjær, not the performance against Arsenal.

Manchester United v Arsenal - Premier League : News Photo
A familiar sight as Man Utd’s midfield chases Arsenal’s midfield during the 1-0 defeat on Sunday

Any team that has the idea of coming to play football and take the game to United often finds themselves punished by the pace of the United attack and quality they have. But once again, with an organised plan in place the game was in the hands of the opponent rather than the Red Devils.

Once again, United failed to adjust their tactics in-game when it was clear that it wasn’t working. The diamond saw them create zero clear cut chances throughout the game and even with 19 minutes to go and 1-0 down, Ole decided to make like-for-like changes and persist. It’s no coincidence, that United failed to create any big chances in those final 20 minutes either.

At no point in the game could you say that they looked like scoring or even threatening Arsenal. It’s becoming a tiresome point honestly, but how many times do United fans need to see a performance like this in a game like this to realise that Solskjær isn’t the man to be in charge at Old Trafford?

It was largely the same group of players who played against Leipzig, playing against a similar three-at-the-back system but with Arsenal refusing to allow space in behind, United had no answers.

But it’s the players fault. Or the boards fault. Or the referee’s fault. Why never Ole’s fault?

The fact of the matter is that there are many problems at Manchester United right now, including Ole Gunnar Solskjær and the sooner the club and fans accept that the better.

What Do People See In Scott McTominay?

Opening day of the Premier League season came a week late for Manchester United but defeat to Crystal Palace was hardly a huge shock to the world.

United were well beaten at Old Trafford as former winger Wilfried Zaha scored twice in a controversial clash that was the London side leave as 3-1 winners. Andros Townsend opened the scoring with a tap in at the back post, before Wilfried Zaha scored a re-taken penalty after David De Gea had saved Jordan Ayew’s initial effort but was deemed to have stepped off his line. Donny Van De Beek came off the bench to score and give United hope, but Zaha took the burden upon himself and scored a fine solo goal to wrap up the points.

Eyebrows were raised immediately when the line-ups came out though, as Ole Gunnar Solskjær opted to field a right-flank of Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Daniel James while Scott McTominay was picked in central midfield ahead of Van De Beek, Fred and Nemanja Matic.

As the Reds surrendered control of the midfield early on in the game, all eyes were on Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes – and rightly so. Those two are the talismen of the side and are the undoubted quality in that area of the pitch. But Scott McTominay did absolutely nothing to help them.

I want to make this clear before I go any further too, McTominay was by no means the sole reason that Manchester United lost the game and wasn’t the only player who performed horrendously. The only players that can come out of that game with their heads held high are David De Gea and Donny Van De Beek. He does however seem to avoid flack more than most.

McTominay was deployed in a holding midfield position, something that Ole Gunnar Solskjær suggested is his long-term role in the squad alongside Nemanja Matic. But he offered zero to the side, in either direction.

Defensively, he was open. His positioning was awful, he lefts gaps constantly, he struggled to win possession back and committed fouls. Going forward, which is a more natural role for him, he didn’t create any chances, lost possession countless times and failed to make any sort of positive impact. He runs a lot though.

When people praise McTominay the first thing that comes out of their mouth is usually something that off the ball. He runs a lot, he’s vocal, he’s passionate, he cares. That’s great, but he’s a footballer first and foremost and he’s not good at it. So often you see him move behind an opposition player to avoid receiving the ball but constantly moving to make out he’s trying to create angles. Even more often you seem him receive the ball deep and either give it straight back to whoever it came from, or just play the ball sideways. No progression, no threat, no quality. Not even vibes.

Despite having Pogba, Fernandes and Van De Beek as midfield options this is what Manchester United fans talk about when they question pundits who say that the Dutchman wasn’t a necessary signing and why they need a defensive midfield signing. McTominay will turn 24 before the year ends and it’s quite clear that he isn’t and won’t be good enough for where Manchester United say they aspire to be in the football ladder.

The club need to stop blindly trusting players simply because they have a good attitude and come from the academy and start judging them on their actual football ability.