McTominay: We can put down a marker
Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay says that winning the Europa League would ‘lay a foundation’ for next season - but insists the current players can’t be satisfied with just one trophy.
Appearing in a special press conference to preview the upcoming final against Villarreal, which will take place in Gdansk 10 days from now, McTominay wants the squad to use the experience as a catalyst.
He feels that success in Poland would propel us on to what should always be the club’s main goals: establishing ourselves as number one both at home and abroad, through Premier League and Champions League success.
Here's what the Scotland international had to say when speaking to the media on Sunday afternoon, just after his manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had done the same...
How much determination is there, having got to a final and had four near misses, to bring that trophy home, and have that foundation for something better and stronger?
“Yeah, of course. That's first and foremost, the foundation that we’ve set is to go and win a trophy. It’s something the whole team have worked for throughout the whole season, something that’s really important to us. We’ve paid the competition big respect in terms of the way we’ve wanted to win and stuff like that so it really does lay a foundation and a good feeling for next season as well.”
McTominay previews Europa League finalVideo
You’ve been at Manchester United all your life really so you understand the demands of the club. You don’t really want to be in the Europa League but it’d be good to win it. You’re second but you want to finish first. Where do you think United are?
“It’s a good question, to be fair. Obviously, it’s easy for me to not be as positive after the week we’ve just had in terms of results, but we’ve played three games in five days. It’s going to be really difficult for any squad, never mind ours. I feel like for us we're in a really positive situation in terms of where we want to be, finishing strong in the Europa League towards the end of the season. Obviously going into next season we want to have that feeling of really pushing and giving everything we've got. Right now I feel like the feeling’s positive between the whole group. We’ve got a really big squad, not many injuries and everybody really fighting fit and hoping to get in the team for the final. For us, it's an opportunity to really put a statement down for next season as well.”
Can you remember what you were doing and where you watched the 2017 final?
“Yeah I can. I was in digs. Obviously I'd played the week before against Crystal Palace and the manager didn’t take us, me and Demetri Mitchell. I was just watching it, it was really good. I remember it like it was yesterday, it was a bit of a whirlwind week and to watch it on the TV was obviously a good feeling to see and something you wanted to be a part of some day. For myself going forward, trophies are the most important thing.”
“Yeah, it's the winning mentality which has to be a given at this football club. We have to go into every single competition like it's the last game that we'll play in. We have to be fighting every single day to prove to the coaches that we should be in the team first and foremost and that we’ve got everything a Manchester United player requires: hard work, determination, quality and the will to win. And the will to win at the end is probably the most important thing. We are at the business end of season now and we have to have guys in the team who will do absolutely everything in their power to help us win. The fixtures haven't been kind to us. We know that. The fixtures have been a shambles to be fair. For the way that we’ve approached them as a group, and the way that we’ve come together as a team to really push through, hopefully we'll get our rewards at the end of the season with a trophy.”
Europa League final: Ole's first press conferenceVideo
There are a lot of players in this squad like yourself who haven’t won anything yet with United and haven’t played in any finals yet. Do you feel that this experience in the Europa League final, if you do get over the line and win it, can change things within this squad? Do you feel that’s going to be a valuable experience that can improve a lot of you as footballers?
“Of course. If you get that feeling for winning, you’re going to improve and be more experienced for the next final that you play. That’s a given. Whether it’ll directly change the whole mentality of the group, who knows? We have to have guys who already have that winning mentality implemented in them from the get go. It can’t just flip because you’ve won a trophy, and all of a sudden ‘I’m a winner now’. You have to be a winner from the start. You have to want to come to training and train properly every day, work hard and push yourself to get in the team. It can’t just be win a final and ‘we’re here, we’ve arrived’. We want the big ones, we want to go strong for the Premier League, for everything.”
There are going to be fans in attendance on Tuesday and there will be fans in Poland as well. I just wondered how the players are looking forward to that and playing in front of people again after a year?
“Get the fans back in man! I said it, I think it was after the game the other day, I said we're desperate for the feeling of adrenaline from all the people inside the stadium. To see everyone smiling and back enjoying football again. The last year has been so difficult. We’ve said that, as players, just because we can do what we love it doesn’t mean we’re still not hurting for everyone else who can't come to the stadiums. We feel the emotion and want everyone there again. Obviously for us it’s friends, family, really pushing yourself for everybody in the Man United family. It’s something I can’t wait for again.”
“Important. It's an important thing to have. It’s something you thrive on in your career and you work really hard for. You don't just come to play games and go home. You want to win stuff, you want to win trophies and be involved in big moments and big matches. I have been, to be fair, but not finals and repeated finals as well. For me, it'd be an honour to be part of that company.”
You actually scored the last goal in front of fans at Old Trafford against Manchester City. That was probably one of the best atmospheres Old Trafford has had, Ole said. What do you remember about that day and that atmosphere? And the goal?
“Every time we play Man City, the atmosphere is electric, to be fair. Liverpool and the rest too. That day was special. I was on the bench, but there was no sulking, no moaning. I’d just come back from injury. I wasn’t in the state to be saying… I’m obviously desperate to play, but you just want the lads to do well and when you come on you’ve got to do your bit as well. It's so important that a team full of winners, there has to be some sort of sulking but sulking in the right way where they want to be playing and want to be involved and always on the pitch all the time. For me, that was the feeling I had that day. To score a goal like that, it was special. Looking back, it was the lads who did the hard work and I was just fortunate enough to get the headlines.”