Scott McTominay comments on Manchester United’s ‘desire’ are hiding a bigger problem – Casey Evans

Manchester United are in disarray. That was clear long before a 3-1 defeat to Arsenal all-but confirmed that the club would miss out on a top-four place and therefore Champions League football next season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked back in November after it became clear that the project he was looking to build at the club was crumbling under the weight of expectation. The holes in his squad and lack of tactical flexibility to accommodate some of the club’s new signings, especially Cristiano Ronaldo, acted like missing Jenga blocks and eventually the whole tower came falling down.

What Solskjaer did have though was the respect of the players, even if he didn’t do anything relatively ground-breaking with it, and it still allowed him to create a cohesive unit at United. Now, fans are seeing the reverse as Ralf Rangnick is shouting his ideas from the rooftops, but seemingly no one is listening.

READ MORE: Scott McTominay sends message to Manchester United teammates after 3-1 Arsenal defeat

Although the judgment of whether Rangnick is a success at United will come more so in his upcoming consultancy role, it is safe to say that his interim period has been a massive disappointment for the fanbase. And a lot of the blame has been laid firmly at the doorstep of the players, with fans claiming they don’t have enough passion or desire.

And while this might be true in some regard, it might not be fair to label it United’s main problem. So when a player comes out and gives the fans the ‘mentality’ that they want to see, the debate over their future in Erik ten Hag’s rebuild gets clouded.

One such player is Scott McTominay. After the 3-1 loss to Arsenal, the Scottish midfielder gave an interview to the media and was very open about the problems with the club; and this resonated well with fans.

McTominay said: “The players that we do bring in, how much can they add to the group. For myself, it’s about a bit of b**** in our performances man, that’s what it comes down to, the fundamentals of football .

“It’s difficult for me to speak right now because it’s so high emotions after that game and the last two months like that. It comes down to the basics and we’re not doing them well enough.”

And while a desire to win and play for United is necessary, the real gap between United and their rivals is the quality of players in key positions. The very fact McTominay is a regular starter is a key example of this. In the first half against Arsenal, the midfielder only completed seven passes (24 by the end of the game at a completion rate of 71 per cent); that doesn’t really look like understanding the fundamentals.

In comparison, Juan Mata played for 11 minutes and completed 10 passes. This would be understandable if McTominay’s defensive work was exemplary but he gave the ball away on multiple occasions outside the box and invited pressure upon the United defence.

United must give Ten Hag the tools he needs to succeed at United and a major part of that is upgrading the team in its weakest areas, and signing the right profiles for each position.

At the top of that list is the midfield. McTominay can still play a role off the bench, given that Paul Pogba, Mata, Matic and Jesse Lingard are all set to leave this summer and you can’t replace all of them.

It is highly likely that the players the fans perceive to have ‘downed tools’ this year will try to impress under the new manager, eliminating the issue with the desire to some degree. But the mentality of the team will still need to be addressed in some ways. And it is understandable why fans who pay good money and spend a large amount of the time watching United are complaining about the passion on display.

However, if the long-term goal is to catch Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, then it’s not just going to be a case of who wants it more — it’s an issue of quality. And if Ten Hag is going to succeed, there will need to be a serious overhaul in the summer to correct decades worth of mistakes.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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