Connect with us


Statistics show Scott McTominay must embrace his new Manchester United bench role



| Last Updated:


Scott McTominay has scored many vital goals for United this season and, as a result, has sent fans into delirium multiple times; that’s fine when he’s a sub, but not when he starts.

McTominay, 27, is United’s current top goalscorer in the Premier League with seven, that’s a worrying stat in itself, closely followed by Rasmus Højlund and Marcus Rashford who both have five, with the latter setting the footballing world alight in recent weeks.

Erik ten Hag has been using the 6’ 4” frame of the Scottish International as an effective weapon in front of the net, which is clearly one of the midfielder’s greatest strengths and has borne its fruit as recently as last weekend as a thunderous header from United’s No. 39 saw the Reds beat Aston Villa 2-1.

Read More: Erik ten Hag issues four Manchester United injury updates including Luke Shaw

This goal might prove pivotal in the hunt for Champions League football as it cuts the gap to Spurs, who are fourth to just six points. A report from The Athletic showed that Scott McTominay’s goals directly correlate to the highest amount of points for his team (12) than any other player, and without his contributions, Manchester United would be languishing in 12th!

This should be celebrated, right? Off the bench definitely, when he’s in the starting XI maybe not.

When in need of a goal, Ten Hag has turned to McTominay as his first choice, similar to that of previous managers with the recently retired ex-Red Marouane Fellaini, who’s perhaps most remembered for his iconic hair and flailing elbows.

Similar in height and playstyle, both the Belgian and Scot seem to have a deep-rooted desire to crash into the box which sometimes leads to rewards, however, mostly ends in chaos.

Coming on as a sub, this can work a treat, especially if McTominay has the sole instructions of not leaving the penalty area and acting like a second centre-forward, which was seen against Villa, and Højlund could be forgiven if he thought he was attached at the hip with his teammate but it causes problems when he’s starting.

Four of his seven goals so far this season have come when he’s made an appearance off the bench with this striker-like tactic drilled into him. This, coupled with his adventurous runs into the box, means that the penalty spot is one of the hottest areas in his heat map, as seen on Sofascore, for this season.

Scott McTominay’s heat map in the Premier League this season.

Goalscoring in football is certainly an art form, and if Scott McTominay was an artist, he’d be Jackson Pollock. The single flecks of paint at the beginning of a Pollock painting could be seen as pointless and represent the aimless shots that McTominay takes to put him in the top 96 percentile for shot attempts when compared to others in similar playing positions.

However, as the splatters of paint and shots increase, you get closer to the masterpieces that adorn galleries worldwide, like McTominay’s sensational cameo against Brentford at Old Trafford.

An observation shared by many United fans is that the 27-year-old hides from the ball during transitions and buildup play, and because of this, his lack of touches sticks out like a sore thumb.

McTominay averages just under 48 touches per 90 in the Premier League, which ranks in the bottom 12%. When McTominay starts, this lack of involvement sometimes has a detrimental effect on the team’s performance, but when he comes on as a substitute, he seems to make every touch count.

Scoring with his first touch against Wolves and only having six in his 17-minute spell at Villa Park, one of which was being on the end of Diogo Dalot’s cross for the winner, off the bench, his ghost-like nature on the field seems to be more of an advantage than a negative.

Perhaps a victim of his stature, McTominay is often seen as the physical bully in the defensive midfield partnership. However, he seems to shy away from the responsibilities of an enforcer.

Per 90 minutes, the ‘defensive midfielder’ ranks in the bottom 20%, in the Premier League for tackle success rate (48.6% currently). Despite being 6’ 4”, he loses 53.1% of his aerial duels, and he struggles to turn defence into attack consistently as he ranks in the bottom 10% for possessions won in the final third.

These are all key areas that a player of his position and size should be competent at, but he’s out of his depth, and the team pay the price when he starts.

Rather than fighting for his place to start in a midfield that is already jampacked, McTominay should embrace his status as a super sub and earn his right in Premier League folklore alongside the likes of Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Adam Le Fondre.