Scott McTominay is doing what Erik ten Hag wants after private Manchester United chat – Isaac Johnson

His double against Chelsea puts him as Manchester Uniteds top scorer with six goals, having also netted twice for Scotland this term. McTominay has dismissed the rumour that he used to play as a striker in his youth but he has certainly shown his eye for goal this campaign.

His dramatic late double against Brentford seems to have been a turning point for the midfielder, who has now scored more Premier League goals (five) than all of Uniteds attackers combined (four).

He has started every league and European match since and the last time he failed to complete a full 90 minutes was back on October 21. The academy graduate, who turns 27 tomorrow, has been allowed to operate in a way in which he thrives best.

This was shown in two halves against Manchester City. He was one of the players involved in the breakaway attacks of the first period before being totally bypassed in the second after being told to sit and protect.

His licence to enter the final third means he now has double the amount of goals he did last season. In Ten Hags first summer, it looked like McTominay was destined for the transfer list after a woeful 2021/22 season.

But with Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata all leaving, United were short on midfield options and Ten Hag could not afford for him to be sold. He was by no means a main player in last seasons successes but it would be harsh to call McTominays campaign a failure.

He chalked up 39 games, winning 13 of the 16 matches he started. He was also in fine form for Scotland, burying five goals for his country after Christmas.

Ten Hag and his staff can take some credit for that post-festive season streak. By December last year, he had scored two of his three club goals of the season but the manager – and player – felt as though he could hit the net more often. I should score more goals, McTominay said at the time.

The manager has actually spoken to me about that and shown me little clips and ways I can be more effective in the game: making assists, scoring goals. If you do certain little details, then you can get yourself in those positions more often. I know I can do it.

With United in a good rhythm during the second half of last season, McTominay was not given as much licence as he now has and only got one more goal for the term. The summer brought rumours of an exit to Newcastle, with West Ham also linked, but Ten Hag decided it was the older Fred who would make way for Mason Mount.

McTominay had only made two starts prior to his unforgettable cameo against Brentford but work on the training ground is starting to pay off. Scott is a great finisher. I see it day in, day out, said technical director Darren Fletcher in October.

He knows where the back of the net is. He strikes the ball really well, can arrive in the box at the right time and when he plays as a number eight and gets box-to-box and arrives late he is a real threat.

A few days earlier, McTominay had revealed the instructions he had received from Fletcher and other staff members. Ive been speaking to Darren Fletcher and Mitchell [van der Gaag, assistant manager] and the coaches and thats what they say: Whenever you get the opportunity, go and show yourself.