EPL

McTominay: The signs are positive, it's time to step up

By Sports Desk November 19, 2019

Scott McTominay believes Manchester United will return from the international break heading in the right direction after an initially difficult start to the season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's future was the subject of significant scrutiny as United won just two of their opening nine Premier League games.

However, his side have emerged victorious in two of their last three league matches, with 3-1 wins over Norwich City and Brighton and Hove Albion sandwiched by a defeat at Bournemouth.

United are seventh in the table, nine points adrift of Manchester City in fourth, but they are through to the EFL Cup quarter-finals and are all but certain of a place in the knockout rounds of the Europa League, which provides the Red Devils with another potential route to next season's Champions League.

A trip to Sheffield United, who are a point above Solskjaer's men, awaits on Sunday, with McTominay upbeat ahead of a challenging fixture.

"In terms of the team, I feel we're much, much brighter," McTominay told United's official website.

"The signs are good, the signs are positive and we've talked about things that we can improve on and how we're going to try to improve by the end of the season, which is the business end of the season as well.

"We always have meetings [to discuss formations and tactics], that's normal. It's a normal thing to have meetings and for everybody to discuss, that's a normal thing and the sign of a healthy dressing room. Boys speaking among it in the changing room, saying what they think we can improve on and what are good ideas as well.

"There's plenty going on, it's not a place to be quiet and in your shell. It's time for people to really step up and start doing their jobs as well."

McTominay, who suffered an ankle injury against Brighton, pointed to the return of Anthony Martial, who has scored three goals in his last six games in all competitions, as a reason for positivity.

He added: "It's difficult to say but with the injuries we've had, I do think we've coped relatively well with a small squad and a lot of boys playing a lot of minutes in a short space of time.

"I think people forget that we have had a lot of injuries, and you can see with Anthony coming back what a difference he makes. 

"There are very positive signs and things are changing. Everybody is looking forward to the next game and wanting that next game to come as soon as possible.

"Everybody wants to play and that’s the sign of a healthy dressing room."

Related items

  • Grealish exit from Villa would be 'sad' but I wouldn't blame him - Petrov Grealish exit from Villa would be 'sad' but I wouldn't blame him - Petrov

    Jack Grealish has not seen sufficient ambition from Aston Villa to tempt him to stay with the club, according to former captain Stiliyan Petrov.

    Relegation from the Premier League looks a near certainty for Villa now, after Watford and West Ham claimed potentially decisive wins on Saturday to pull clear of the bottom three.

    It will mean Villa's return to the top flight has lasted just one campaign, after Grealish spent three seasons in the Championship helping his boyhood club battle their way back to the elite level.

    Grealish is widely expected to leave, having been linked with a host of leading clubs including Manchester United, and the 24-year-old may risk his potential going unfulfilled should he drop into the second tier again.

    Although Villa were among the big spenders leading into the 2019-20 season, Petrov suggests the 1982 European Cup winners have still not matched Grealish's needs.

    And in turn that leads to the inevitable suspicion he will call time on his Villa career.

    Speaking to Stats Perform News, Petrov said: "As a Villa fan I'd love him to stay. Jack likes to compete, he wants to do that at the highest level. He loves the club. He showed that in the Championship, he helped us get promotion, he battled hard in the Premier League.

    "If that moment comes [when Grealish leaves], it would be sad to see because he is an exceptional person, not just player. But as a club, have we done enough to keep him?

    "I don't think so and it's a big problem going forward as a club, because we may get good players through the youth system, but can we do enough to keep them?

    "If he goes, I don't think he can be blamed."

    Former Bulgaria star Petrov, who made over 200 appearances for Villa from 2006 until 2012, says it would be a natural progression for Grealish to step up to an established Premier League club.

    "Jack has a growth mindset," Petrov said. "He likes to improve, he wants to achieve.

    "He likes to be in the spotlight, wants to be counted. He wants to compete at the highest level.

    "Of course, he will generate interest from the top clubs because he does perform. If you remember, Pep Guardiola said he's one of the best midfielders in the Premier League.

    "That compliment comes from one of the best managers in the world. Those managers don't waste their words saying this about someone who doesn't deserve it.

    "That's why Pep came out and said he's one of the best and his performances this season have attracted attention. It's completely normal."

  • Ziyech trains with Chelsea for the first time Ziyech trains with Chelsea for the first time

    Hakim Ziyech has had his first training session as a Chelsea player.

    The 27-year-old signed a five-year deal with the Blues after Ajax accepted a deal that could be worth €44million in February.

    With the Eredivisie season having been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ziyech has largely been out of action since early March, but he was put through his paces during a fitness session at Cobham on Saturday.

    The Morocco international arrived in England on Friday and was pictured with friends at a Mayfair restaurant that evening.

    Ziyech underwent light fitness training with a view to being incorporated into first-team sessions in the coming weeks, although he is unavailable to head coach Frank Lampard until the 2020-21 season.

    Chelsea, who are third in the Premier League with four matches remaining, face Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Saturday.

  • Pioli not interested in Gattuso comparisons amid Rangnick rumours Pioli not interested in Gattuso comparisons amid Rangnick rumours

    Stefano Pioli refused to be drawn over comparisons to former Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso as he was once again asked about his future at San Siro. 

    In-form Milan travel to face Gattuso's Napoli on Sunday in a crucial game for both teams in the fight to finish fifth in Serie A. 

    The Rossoneri go on the road looking to maintain their unbeaten run since the season resumed in Italy. They rallied from 2-0 down to stun leaders Juventus in midweek, having also beaten second-placed Lazio last weekend. 

    Pioli took charge in October following the departure of Marco Giampaolo, who had been appointed prior to the 2019-20 season after Gattuso left by mutual agreement. 

    Milan finished fifth last season - in the process missing out on Champions League football - but the former Italy international is now at the helm with Napoli, winners of this year's Coppa Italia final.

    Asked to evaluate his reign so far in contrast to Gattuso's achievements in 2018-19, Pioli told the media: "It is difficult to do it. Gattuso had started the season from the beginning, I didn't. 

    "We are talking about a coach [Gattuso] capable of making the teams he trains play well, giving an important mentality.  

    "He did it at Milan, he is doing it today at Napoli. And that's what I'm trying to do, too. The numbers can be compared in the end and there is still much to do." 

    Pioli arrived with Milan sitting in 13th place in the table, just three points clear of the relegation zone. 

    While there were ups and downs in the early months, the recent run of results - they have taken 13 points from five games since the restart - offers much promise for the future. 

    "We did not immediately have the continuity that is acquired by working together, it takes time to build a game philosophy and get to know the players especially from a character point of view," Pioli said. 

    "We must finish the championship well, there are still many points available and many important games. Tomorrow we have a very difficult one, against a great team and a coach who gave them the right mentality, leading to their Coppa Italia victory.  

    "We face a team that is doing very well, just as we are doing very well. We need to think only about what we can still do, and not what we could have done before." 

    Despite the recent good work, Milan continue to be linked with a move for Ralf Rangnick. For Pioli, however, the only concern is finishing this current campaign strongly, rather than worrying about his job.

    "I don't know if the club has already decided," he said on speculation over Rangnick joining the club. "But this is not my concern, nor is it for the players.  

    "We are only thinking of doing well. We are reaping the benefits of the work started in October, we and the club have to grow further and close the season satisfied." 

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.