Scott McTominay has admitted that he felt nervous prior to starting for Manchester United against Sevilla on Wednesday night.
The 21-year-old was surprisingly handed a place in the starting XI ahead of Paul Pogba in a three-man midfield for Man United’s first Champions League knockout game since 2014.
And earned praise from his manager after the game for what was a disciplined, energetic, growingly confident display in the middle.
Speaking after the game, McTominay admitted that he was feeling some pre-match nerves ahead of stepping out into the noisy Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium.
“Obviously nerves are natural, it’s how you deal with those nerves and once you go out there, you just forget about it,” he said.
“It’s a game of football on a pitch that you played on before, you just take from there and want to play your game.”
“It’s a difficult place to come, Sevilla. The fans and all the players are going to be up for it when Manchester United are in town and it’s a difficult night.
“You have to concentrate and focus. I thought it was a good performance from the whole team, everybody played well and that’s the main thing going back to Old Trafford.”
Deciphering just exactly what McTominay does as a midfielder can be difficult. Is he more attacking or defensive, more physical or intuitive in his approach?
He has made 16 appearances for Man United and the answers still aren’t clear. His discipline, locomotion with and without the ball, and calculated passing certainly appeals to Mourinho, and you can be sure more opportunities will come his way.
But it was another attribute to his game that will be of greater interest to supporters: his temperament.
He begun the game tentatively, keeping things simple and acclimatising to the ferocious Seville crowd, but by the end he was in the flow of things, confidently looking the ball around and making important interceptions, his reading of the game improving as the minutes went by. He made nine in total.
The way in which McTominay felt his way into a difficult game against an ebullient side was a testament to his cool, calm approach. And that, above anything, could be what serves him best throughout his Old Trafford career.