Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag was eager to preside over a complete overhaul of his team’s midfield, something which had come under intense criticism in the years prior to his appointment.
The Dutchman had already improved the balance by bringing in Casemiro for big money from Real Madrid and the astute free purchase of Christian Eriksen.
But question marks were still raised about the team’s inability to win points against the big teams away from home and that called for more energy and defensive solidity in the centre of the park.
Everything pointed towards the exit of the highly-criticised midfield duo McFred — Scott McTominay and Fred in the summer transfer window.
McTominay is in red-hot form
The calibre of the teams interested in the Scotsman over the course of the summer proved his credentials were stronger than certain fans give him credit for.
He is yet to start a single game in the Premier League this season, making two substitute appearances totaling seven minutes of action.
United legend Gary Neville has even suggested that the midfielder is not part of Erik ten Hag’s planning and that the manager wants him out of the club.
Even though the manager seems to prefer other midfielders at the moment, McTominay’s time to shine might be about to come sooner than expected.
His form at international level is hard to ignore at the moment. He is the highest goalscorer in the Euro 2024 qualifying stage with six goals in five games.
While he is not the most adept with his back-to-goal or as the out-and-out defensive midfielder, his strengths are his work rate, energy and ability to arrive late in the box to score consistently.
Mason Mount’s entry into the team has created an imbalance with the former Chelsea star and Bruno Fernandes occupying positions higher up the pitch, leaving Casemiro too isolated.
That has allowed the opposition to counter at will and the manager tried to rectify the situation by playing Eriksen there.
The Dane’s passing ability remains unmatched but his legs usually don’t last for 90 minutes, and he struggles with the defensive aspect especially away from home against the big sides.
The manager’s plan to change things around includes playing new star signing Sofyan Amrabat alongside Casemiro to provide additional security to the back line.
McTominay is the perfect player for the CL opener
However, the Moroccan is still not fit enough and even though his national team manager insisted the injury-enforced absence was more of a precaution, he needs time.
Amrabat has hardly had a proper pre-season and with a niggling back injury, Ten Hag will be aware of the fact that the player needs to be gradually introduced to the Premier League pace.
United’s next two games after the international break are against the high-flying Brighton at home in the league and against Bayern Munich away from home in the opening game of the Champions League.
It would be foolish for Ten Hag to ignore McTominay’s form. The Scottish international should be playing alongside Casemiro at the Allianz Arena.
He can provide additional security and could pose an additional headache for the Bavarians with both his height and ability to score later and important goals.
Ten Hag is right about the fact that the academy graduate is not the best equipped to deal with his methods in the No 6 position but on certain occasions, especially away from home, McTominay could prove to be the key cog in the United wheel.
The 26-year-old has his technical flaws, but if you want a player with the engine to run non-stop from box-to-box for 90 minutes while giving his blood, sweat, and tears for the club, McTominay is your guy.
Against the Bundesliga champions, the manager should pick him as he is tailor-made for the occasion, considering the remaining players at the boss’ disposal.