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20th Apr 2019

Scott McTominay opens up on relationship with José Mourinho

Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay, who won José Mourinho's player of the season award, has opened up on a 'bollocking' he received

Reuben Pinder

McTominay was one of José’s favourites, but their relationship wasn’t plain sailing

At the end of last season, Manchester United’s end of season awards were a bittersweet affair. They had very little to celebrate. Nobody really stood out as player of the season. That gave former manager José Mourinho the perfect opportunity to play football politics, which he seems to enjoy more than actual football.

Mourinho awarded Scott McTominay, who started a total of five Premier League matches last season, his Manager’s Player of the Season award. Presumably, he was trying to tell the senior players in the team – Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matić – , that they weren’t matching the high standards set at United. But he also genuinely rated McTominay, as shown by his repeated selection of the Scot in big matches.

However, it wasn’t plain sailing between them. Mourinho still got up to his old tricks, throwing up mental tests to find out what type of player he had on his hands. The answer: a resilient one.

McTominay has opened up on a ‘bollocking’ that Mourinho gave him one day which set off alarm bells in his head, and made him wonder whether he’d blown his chance in the first team.

“Jose was amazing for me,” McTominay told The Times. “Though when I first came in Jose gave me a serious, serious b******ing.

“I was arguing with one of the first team lads in training and he said ‘hey, kid, when you come into the first team, the other players – they have to like you.’

“‘You’re not a superstar’, he said and I drove back to digs thinking ‘have I just ruined it for myself? I couldn’t believe it.

“I thought ‘I hope he knows I don’t think I’m a star, I’m the polar opposite.’ He probably just wanted to see what I was made of, what sort of lad he had on his hands.

“You’re liked by what you do on the pitch and how you are off the pitch and I feel Mourinho saw something in me at a time some people did and some people didn’t, and I’m grateful.”

McTominay has impressed in recent games under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, starting ahead of Matić in both games against Barcelona in the Champions League, earning many plaudits for an excellent defensive display in the home leg.

However, we all know that football law dictates that he ends up at Everton, and then Sunderland.