Jose Mourinho has insisted that Scott McTominay has earned his trust through hard work in training at Manchester United this season.
The 21-year-old made his debut for the first team back in May and kept his place in Mourinho’s squad with a series of impressive performances during pre-season.
And he has continued to take steps in the right direction this season, making eight starts in all competitions this season – most recently against Sevilla in the Champions League, producing a disciplined, energetic midfield display.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of Man United’s clash with Chelsea, Mourinho shed light on how McTominay’s work rate during training has impressed him.
“I think I don’t give trust for free,” he said. “I think is the other way round, I don’t think its about the manager to trust the player, it’s the player to make the manager trust him.”
“It’s as simple as that, sometimes it looks like we have to give everything to the players and they give nothing back to us.
“I don’t think that way, the confidence and trust I show towards Scott, he earned it since day one, since he come to the first team training sessions step by step with a lot to learn and a long way to go.
“Even now, after I would say maybe eight starts, something like that, he has a lot to learn but since the first moment he was learning that is the way to perform and of course he will have bad matches and make mistakes and be on the bench and not be selected but I know when I want him to play I know the kind of mentality, the player I am developing, I know the qualities that will make him a really good player.”
No United supporter should ever disparage attempts to introduce youngsters into the first team, to give promising talents the platform to mould themselves into fully fledged warriors through graft and exposure to pressure situations.
But at a time when United’s midfield remains under serious scrutiny – made worse by news of Ander Herrera being out for a “few weeks” – the question of just how McTominay figures in this team is an important one.
Against Sevilla, the Scot’s passing was limited in ambition and reach, but his tracking of opponents and organisation was superb. He made nine interceptions in total, breaking down the influence of Steven N’Zonzi and Ever Banega bit by bit.
He appears to be more of a destructive rather than constructive midfielder, and with Herrera injured Mourinho may well call on the youngster to fill his role as the side’s Pitbull over the next few weeks.