This week Jose Mourinho created a new award at the Manchester United end of season awards. Alongside the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year (David De Gea the unsurprising winner) Jose Mourinho introduced the Manager’s Player of the Year. This award went to Scott McTominay, who is the latest player to graduate from the academy.
This feels like a political statement to appease the supporters demanding more home-grown talent make it into the first team. Alexis Sanchez has effectively replaced Marcus Rashford in the starting line up and many traditionalists are frustrated that his natural talent is going to waste. Scott McTominay has now established himself as a regular starter alongside Nemanja Matic at the heart of the midfield and Jose Mourinho is making a statement that talent is not enough; hard work and discipline is what will graduate you into the first team no matter what your natural talent is. This could be a particular reference to Luke Shaw, who at 18 looked like he would be England’s left back for 15 years but has struggled over recent years.
Traditionally, at other clubs, the Manager’s Player of the Year is not always focused on performances but the attitude of the player and how they fit into the manager’s philosophy. Using Wyscout Scott McTominay does not appear in the top 10 Manchester United players for interceptions, passing accuracy or key passes and in fact has not registered an assist or goal all season.
Whilst you could argue that David De Gea has been the stand out player in this efficient team, Scott McTominay is the embodiment of Jose Mourinho’s philosophy. His team’s focus on discipline and organisation is why McTominay has thrived. It also provides a message to Manchester United’s talented youngsters, if you want to make it in this team then you won’t get by on talent alone.
Whilst looking at the statistics it does not seem a warranted award, it does show a shift in attitude by Jose Mourinho. Now academy players can see a route to the first team that at previous clubs, like Chelsea, did not exist. Attitude and personality will be key to any young player succeeding and we should congratulate Jose Mourinho for rewarding this, sometimes the media and analysts can get obsessed with the numbers but having the correct aptitude to succeed should also be applauded and will be crucial should Manchester United mount a serious challenge to Manchester City next season.