United Briefing: Scott's twin inspirations
Scott McTominay has revealed how two former Manchester United players have had a big impact on the way he sees the game, both physically and mentally.
The Academy graduate has become a key player for the Reds under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and he passed 100 games for the club earlier in the season.
Scott’s game is obviously continuing to develop - his seven goals in 2020/21 is already a personal best - and Ole clearly sees leadership traits in him, as he captained United for the first time in January.
When previewing a reunion with ex-Reds striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose AC Milan side take on United in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, Scott gave us an insight into just how much the Swede’s legendary, take-no-prisoners personality rubbed off on him during the time he spent in Manchester.
“[He was] ruthless. I’m not going to say too much more than that,” Scott told UEFA.com, in an interview ahead of the first leg at Old Trafford.
“Good professional, worked hard, big, big presence in the dressing room in terms of his voice and the way that he is with people.
“He’s a ruthless guy in terms of the way he wants to win 24/7, if you’re not on the same page as him, then you won’t succeed under him, he’ll make life hard for you, so you'd better work hard at winning, otherwise it’ll be a tough time for you.
“I love guys like that in football. He’s obviously had a legendary career which is a real credit to him, and obviously to his family as well, so I have nothing but big praise for him. He’s a tough guy to be around sometimes, but that’s the positive - I can be [tough to be around] as well.”
McTominay’s elite mentality comes across on and off the pitch, but the Scotland international is also making great strides in terms of the physical aspect of his game.
Watchers of United’s youth teams over the years will know that Scott was far from his current imposing six-foot-four frame when first representing our sides.
A sudden growth spurt led to him changing his position – and, as you’ll read, his footballing inspiration – and even in the four years since he broke into the first-team squad, Scott has gone from primarily a defensive ‘screening’ midfielder to someone who can operate anywhere between both boxes and score goals.
He's even played as a defender for Steve Clarke's national side, and can often be spotted slotting into United's right-back position when Aaron Wan-Bissaka makes a foray forward.
The 24-year-old has looked even more physical in recent months, perhaps in part that’s due to his new ‘buzzcut’ hairstyle, and his bulking up is reminiscent of another footballer formerly of this parish, who has taken the notion of personal improvement to another stratosphere.
“Obviously, when I was younger, I was really small, so [Lionel] Messi was a perfect example for me of someone who would get kicked about by bigger players,” he added.
“Messi just took to it like a duck to water. Watching him was a real inspiration, to show me that if he's one of the smallest players on the pitch but the best player on it, then why can’t I be?
“Then as you get older and a lot stronger and bigger, you look to [Cristiano] Ronaldo – his physical attributes and the way that he’s worked on his body, everything.
“His body, his mind, his talent all come together as a collective. And for young players you don’t get a much better example.”
Getting ready for the Rossoneri gallery
Find out which players took part in Tuesday's session at the Aon Training Complex...
WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY?
Ole will address reporters in his pre-match press conference ahead of the Milan game at 13:30 GMT - tune in to our live stream to get the latest on the team news.
Milan's media briefing will be held in Italy, earlier in the afternoon, and coach Stefano Pioli is expected to give a further update on whether Ibrahimovic will be fit enough to feature after he picked up a muscle injury earlier this month.
In the evening, Neil Ryan's Under-18s start their FA Youth Cup adventure for this season. The third-round clash with Salford City, postponed from January due to COVID-19, kicks off at 19:00 GMT and will be shown live on MUTV.
WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY?
We published the early team news ahead of the Milan encounter and also gave the lowdown on how the Rossoneri got on at the weekend, which included a standout performance from our on-loan full-back Diogo Dalot.
The reaction continued to pile in after Sunday’s Manchester derby victory. Take a look at our Access All Areas video, for example, or check out our best counter-attacking goals under Ole so far, after Luke Shaw’s magnificent effort.
There’s the chance to put your questions to the manager too, and the latest UTD Podcast, featuring our former goalkeeper Gary Bailey, is now available to listen to on all of your favourite platforms.