The Reds deserved to be beaten, which only rubbed salt into the wounds after the 4-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield four days prior. Earlier that month, they succumbed to a 1-0 loss at Everton before narrowly beating relegation-bound Norwich 3-2 during which fans vented their frustration at soon-to-go Paul Pogba.
United would go on to pick up just four points in their final four matches which included a 4-0 humiliation to Brighton with many players being too scared to go over to the visiting fans afterward – and they didn&apost refrain from scolding the team for their performance. It all the more highlights the turnaround Erik ten Hag has enacted with that relationship not only restored but thriving once again.
McTominay had one eye on the incoming Ten Hag after the defeat to Arsenal at the time. “We need to concentrate on what&aposs happening on the pitch,” he commanded. “It&aposs self-pride when we&aposre on the pitch.
“We don&apost need to worry about who&aposs saying what. It&aposs pride when you go on the pitch, give your best, everyone.”
He then added: “When the new coach comes in, we need to be ready for everything. We need to be concentrating on our jobs. We impress him and then we can build from there.”
McTominay played 21 minutes against Crystal Palace on Wednesday, as Ten Hag decided to risk Casemiro, who was a yellow card away from suspension, in midfield ahead of him. The Brazilian did end up picking a fifth caution of the season late on in the match and so will not be available for the trip to the Emirates.
It opens a door for McTominay, who has largely played the rotation player this season. He is yet to start a Premier League game since the 6-3 defeat to Manchester City on October 2 and played just a handful of minutes in Saturdays reverse fixture.
After enjoying a streak in the starting XI he is not considered among Ten Hags first-picks in midfield, which is understandable given the form of Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes.
The Scot, though, will find out whether he has indeed impressed his manager to a point where he can trust him in big matches again as he returns to the Emirates for the first time since that justified post-match rant.
McTominay is battling for game time with Fred, who was his central partner last year. The two have different attributes to their game and it could be argued the former is the go-to replacement for Casemiro.
Hes certainly got more defensive nous than Fred. If McTominay does not make it into the line-up, aside from injury and illness, it will come as somewhat of a message. Conversely, if he does start it will show he has succeeded – to a degree – in his mission.
He is never going to oust Casemiro or Eriksen but if Ten Hag feels he is good enough to be a stop-gap option for a match then that is a role he may have to play while Uniteds progression chugs along.
Minutes on the pitch will allow McTominay to right the wrongs of last year and would also be a good barometer to judge his progression by. If he is left out, his rotation status at United will be cemented.
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