Scott McTominay has been in fine form for Manchester United of late and has even managed to keep new signing Casemiro on the bench in the early stages of the season.
The international break gives us a good opportunity to look under the hood and see where he has shone and where he may yet improve.
With 1.3 interceptions, 1.7 tackles, and 5.7 duels won per 90 minutes (Sofascore), McTominay has been key in helping his team win the ball back in a midfield built around the creative talents of Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes.
He has been reliable enough in possession as well, with a steady pass completion rate of 82% despite noticeably looking to play more positive passes in general.
Interestingly, his passing has not suffered from altitude sickness at all, with an 83% accuracy for passes completed in the opposition half.
McTominay’s ball retention has been aided by his exceptional 73% dribbling success rate, which has often been used to great effect in escaping opposition pressure.
The stats certainly do appear to highlight the Scotsman’s upturn in performances under Erik ten Hag, but there are still areas he can improve upon.
As pointed out above, his passing has been okay if unspectacular in terms of both accuracy and creativity, so while it is on the right track, more can be done there.
His impressive dribbling numbers have at times been a double-edged sword as well and McTominay has been guilty of holding onto the ball for too long on a number of occasions.
This happens particularly often in the final third, leading to a breakdown in good attacking opportunities.
The ability to reorient oneself to their options on the go is a difficult one to master but should McTominay improve his awareness and decision-making after a forward burst, United will benefit from the quicker interplay the midfielder could offer.
A common problem for McTominay has also been his general involvement in possession – making himself available to his teammates. It is still something he seems to struggle with a fairly low touch-count of 45.3 per match.
This is somewhat mitigated this season by him being used as a ‘pessimist’ in midfield, however.
McTominay will often make counter-runs rather than offer himself as a passing option, essentially assuming that the next pass his teammate makes will cede possession and readying himself to win the ball back from the opposition immediately.
That approach has its merits, but a top-class holding midfielder is usually able to ready themselves for a worst-case scenario and offer to recycle possession with the same movement.
If McTominay really does want to continue keeping Casemiro out of the team, that kind of movement is what he will need to offer.
Given his press-resistance and ever-improving passing ability, he should be a far more valuable player in possession than he currently is.
Having shown early signs of taking to Ten Hag’s methods, the future looks bright for Scott McTominay.