Apologies in advance, because it’s lazy to compare Scott McTominay to Darren Fletcher.
But there’s no getting away from certain striking similarities. Both graduated through Man United’s academy to make the first team. Both play in the middle of the park. Both represent Scotland internationally.
Both, too, struggled to convince a portion of United’s fanbase of their worth.
Fletcher was somewhat shielded from much of the criticism that accompanied his emergence at United under Sir Alex Ferguson, given he played at a time in which social media didn’t exist.
Facebook wasn’t around until 2004, a year after Fletcher made his first-team debut, while people weren’t tweeting in anger until 2006.
BBC’s 606 forum was the premium destination for fans looking to vent but, unless Fletcher was firing up the dial-up regularly, there was no real danger of that criticism finding its way into his inbox.
That doesn’t mean Fletcher was immune from condemnation. Roy Keane infamously questioned Fletcher’s ability on United’s own in-house TV channel following a 4-1 loss at the hands of Middlesbrough.
Fletcher shrugged off the criticism to win five Premier League titles and an FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League medal apiece.
The 35-year-old was also named in the 2009/10 Premier League Team of the Season, following a campaign in which his performances were so impressive that a 22-goal Frank Lampard was left out in the centre of midfield.
McTominay is just starting out on his journey, but the criticism directed his way is amplified tenfold because of social media.
It hasn’t helped that instead of Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Keane, David Beckham and Michael Carrick for midfield partners, McTominay is sharing the engine room with Fred, Andreas Pereira and Nemanja Matic.
Just as Fletcher mad a mockery of the criticism, McTominay appears stronger for his Old Trafford baptism of fire.
The ‘McSauce’ memes that somewhat jokingly littered Twitter with every early appearance- such was the lack of belief amongst some fans- have now taken on genuine admiration.
Whether ‘McSauce’ or ‘McDominant’, McTominay is now a vital part of United’s present and future.
It’s telling that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rushed McTominay back from injury ahead of United’s win against Spurs, in which the 22-year-old dominated a potentially problematic midfield trio of Harry Winks, Dele Alli and Moussa Sissoko.
The symmetrical prospect of United hiring the man replaced by Jose Mourinho to take over from the man who succeeded Jose Mourinho now appears a little less unlikely, even if the Argentinian’s shadow still looms large in Manchester.
It’s also telling that United appeared to miss McTominay – the Scot was out between 10 November and 4 December because of an ankle injury- more than they have done Paul Pogba.
McTominay’s presence raises the levels of those around him. Fred, in particular, put in one of his best shifts in a United shirt against Spurs when partnered with McTominay.
The Scot is something of a throwback, which is refreshing in the modern era of pigeonholing midfielders into either creative or destructive players.
McTominay’s frame makes him a natural physical presence, but he’s increasingly displaying assured touches of class on the ball, particularly in his ability to beat a press by passing through the lines.
This is by no means a vintage United team, so beating Fletcher’s haul of 13 trophies at United will take some doing.
That won’t stop McTominat setting about the task with vigour. If United are to get back to winning ways consistently, ‘McSauce’ will be at the heart of the revival.
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