Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba was dropped for Saturday’s meeting with Huddersfield Town, with Scott McTominay chosen to replace the French international. Manager Jose Mourinho says the decision “wasn’t to punish anyone”.
United won the game 2-0 at Old Trafford, with Pogba coming on after 65 minutes. Many believed the 24-year-old’s axing was due to his poor performance in the recent defeat to Tottenham, but Mourinho has played down such talk, instead praising McTominay for earning a place by merit.
“I changed a few players and the intention was not to punish anyone. I made changes thinking about the characteristics of this game and (McTominay) has a great desire to recover the ball.
“He’s a kid that chases the ball, tries to recover high up the pitch and when he has the ball he plays always simple. Sometimes against opponents like Huddersfield, who play so close, with so many bodies, sometimes simplicity is genius.
“You have to open space by playing simple, so it was a decision to play the kid.” he said, reports the Independent.
It’s high praise by Mourinho for the 21-year-old midfielder, who made only his third Premier League start. McTominay has broken through this season, featuring in the Champions League, FA Cup, EFL Cup and top flight.
He’s been used sparingly in and around the first-team, but clearly has the trust and support of the manager, which matters most to his chances of featuring again. The English-born Scotland hopeful played a full 90 minutes, making 103 touches, 94 passes (91.5% accuracy) and won two aerial duels.
It’s still early days into his Manchester United career, but the midfielder is impressing the right people. Starting ahead of Paul Pogba is a big call, and one Mourinho didn’t live to regret.