EPL

McCoist impressed by McTominay emergence for Man Utd & Scotland

By Sports Desk June 11, 2021

Scotland legend Ally McCoist has been delighted by Scott McTominay's recent emergence as a key man for both club and country.

The 24-year-old featured in 49 games across all competitions for Manchester United last term as they finished second in the Premier League and reached the Europa League final.

He also helped his country secure their first major tournament appearance since the 1998 World Cup with a play-off victory over Serbia that ensured they will be at this year's European Championship.

It is a development that has somewhat surprised McCoist, who scored 19 times for Scotland across a 61-cap international career.

Speaking to Stats Perform on behalf of official UEFA Euro 2020 partner Heineken ahead of the action getting under way, he said: "I have been absolutely delighted and pleasantly surprised at the massive improvement in Scott McTominay. 

"I thought he was the best player on the park in the Europa final, which was a poor final I have to say. I knew he was capable of playing well, but his level of consistency and performance level for United and indeed Scotland has pleasantly surprised me. 

"I don't want say it in [a way that] is not respectful to Scott McTominay, it's quite the opposite. I've been absolutely delighted with the improvements he has made as a player both at club level and international level. 

"It says as much about Scott McTominay that there's every chance we play him in a position that he doesn't play with Manchester United, probably on the right of a three defensively. It's probably a bit of a surprise but a really pleasant one."

McTominay is not the only member of Scotland's squad who has endured a gruelling season, with captain Andy Robertson having clocked up 50 games for Liverpool.

But McCoist has no concerns about burnout – he instead believes that players will be invigorated by their country's rare appearance at a major tournament.

He continued: "It wouldn't be a concern for me. We can't have it both ways. One of the problems in recent years and one of the reasons we haven't qualified for major tournaments is that we haven't had top players playing at the top level. 

"We've now got top players playing at the top level; Andy Robertson is one of them, [Kieran] Tierney, McTominay, [John] McGinn, the two lads at Southampton [Stuart Armstrong and Che Adams].

"I don't think it's rocket science, we've now got better players playing at a better level and that's one of the reasons we've qualified for the Euros.

"With Andy, obviously it's the Scottish lads' dream to play at a major championship, we haven't done it for 23 years. 

"So boys like that, of course they've had a lot of football, I accept and appreciate that, but they've had a little bit of a break, they're now at their training camps, they've [had] a couple of friendlies – I think they'll be absolutely raring to go. 

"Their enthusiasm and adrenaline will have them so fired up, I think we'll be absolutely fine."

Scotland have been drawn to face three teams all placed higher than them (44) in the FIFA world rankings in England (four), Croatia (14) and the Czech Republic (40).

But with four of the six teams who place third in their groups also going through to the knockout stages, McCoist is confident that Steve Clarke's side can progress.

He added: "I think the great thing from our point of view is the fact that there's a low expectancy level from outside. 

"We obviously want to do well and we'll do as well as we can but we're pretty realistic about it. You look at the group and we're probably outsiders but I honestly believe we can win our first game. 

"England, for example, have just got a far better team and far better squad than us – that's not to say we can't win the game, but they've got one of the most talented squads in the tournament. 

"But I think on our day we can beat the Czech Republic and if we can manage to do that then I think with four teams qualifying from the section in third place, I don't see any reason why we couldn't qualify from the group. I think that's got to be our target, it really has. 

"Is it achievable? Yes it is. It'll be very, very difficult because England, Croatia and the Czech Republic are all top sides, but I think it's achievable."

As part of Heineken's global 'Finally Together' campaign which recognises the long-awaited reunion with fans and the rivalries that go alongside, McCoist stitched up England rival and fellow pundit Jermaine Jenas with the ultimate friendly wind-up – posing in a tailor-made suit emblazoned with the Saltire across the back.

He said: "Jermaine is a dapper fellow who can strike a pose even better than he could a football. 

"We just knew he wouldn't be able to resist the offer of tailor-made suit and a photoshoot.

"Everyone present could see what was on his back apart from him and I took great pleasure in getting him to model it for the camera. 

"Jermaine's face was an absolute picture when he realised he'd been stitched up. This is a victory for the Scots and I'll raise my glass for another one at Wembley!"

Related items

  • France star Pavard: I was knocked out for 15 seconds France star Pavard: I was knocked out for 15 seconds

    Benjamin Pavard revealed he was knocked out for "10 to 15 seconds" before returning to the field in France's 1-0 win over Germany at Euro 2020.

    Pavard sustained a head injury following a collision with Germany's Robin Gosens as world champions France opened their Group F campaign with victory on Tuesday.

    France defender Pavard was left on the floor before receiving treatment for several minutes in Munich, where he was eventually allowed to continue.

    "I took a hell of a shock," Pavard told beIN Sports post-match.

    "I was a little knocked out for 10 to 15 seconds. After that, it was better."

    A "concussion charter" was signed by all 24 teams at Euro 2020 – a commitment to taking a series of measures to improve the care of players and includes neurological baseline testing and access to in-match television replays for team doctors.

    But the incident involving Pavard has raised further questions about concussion protocols in football.

    FIFPro has long called for temporary concussion substitutions and the enforcement of a minimum six-day gradual return to play.

    "The issue of concussion is a very serious issue. It's a health and safety issue, which is related to their work place. In my point of view, I don't think it's been addressed in the proper manner it should be addressed," FIFPro vice-president Francis Awaritefe previously told Stats Perform.

    "We've seen the medical data around the long-term risks of concussion and how they can have a deleterious long-term effect for people who suffer concussion when it's not managed properly.

    "We're really worried about it because football seems to be a long way behind some of the other sports in terms of protocols and just in terms of the way how seriously they're taking concussion.

    "For me, it's a massive issue. We don't want to wait until a player has a serious injury that it might end their career or worse, we have a player die on the field or soon after because of a concussion issue that wasn't treated properly.

    "As a sport, we need to reflect on this and get together with experts to come up with smart and proactive solutions to deal with this really, really serious issue."

    Brendan Schwab – executive director of the World Players Association – also told Stats Perform previously: "When concussed, it's not the time for the player to make a decision as to whether they should continue in a game. That is a decision that needs to be placed in the hands of independent medical assessors who have no duty other than to act in the best interests of the player.

    "There needs to be independent medical assessors on the sidelines. But we do expect this to be resisted because it is resisted in other sports. We now have independent medical assessors on the sidelines of the NFL and it's only because the NFLPA fought for that right. It was a battle.

    "Now the suggestion that the club doctor knows the player better than another doctor, again, is not a medically-based comment. What we do know, however, is that the club doctor who is employed by the club has a conflict of interest. That conflict of interest needs to be minimised and voided in circumstances when dealing with head injuries.

    "If FIFA doesn't change, what we will see is football leagues at the national level collectively bargain their own variation of the laws of the game. In Australia, the knowledge is clear that the clubs as employers would be in breach of health and safety requirements, and acting against the wishes of the unions, by putting players back into the game when they're clearly in a vulnerable position. What's to prevail there? Laws of the game or national health and safety laws? National health and safety laws have to prevail. It won't be a defence to any action for an employer to say 'we were simply providing an unsafe work practice at the behest of FIFA'."

  • France must accept favourites tag at Euro 2020 – Pogba France must accept favourites tag at Euro 2020 – Pogba

    Paul Pogba insisted France must deal with being labelled as favourites to win Euro 2020 after he led the way with a supreme performance against Germany.

    Mats Hummels' own goal gifted Euro 2016 runners-up France a 1-0 win over Germany in their opening Group F encounter in Munich on Tuesday, putting Les Bleus well on their way to progressing to the last 16.

    France – who finished with just one attempt on target – had opportunities to add to their lead, with Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema having goals disallowed for offside, though Joachim Low's Germany ultimately failed to make their luck count as they lost their opening game of a European Championship for the first time.

    The winner came in fortuitous circumstances, with Hummels turning in from Lucas Hernandez's cross.

    Pogba's exceptional pass played in France's left-back, however, and the Manchester United midfielder was on top form, attempting more passes (52) and more in Germany's half (31) than any Les Bleus player.

    He also amassed a team-high 78 touches – albeit that total was 50 less than game-leader Toni Kroos (128) – and went in for 20 duels, the most of any player.

    With the world champions having been tipped to lift the trophy they missed out on against Portugal on home soil five years ago, Pogba is adamant France must live up to the billing.

    "The performance of the team is the most important. Without them, I would not have been so efficient," Pogba, who was also involved in a flashpoint with Antonio Rudiger when he appeared to complain that the Germany defender had bitten him, told M6.

    "They helped me, they have everyone made the effort. This victory is for everyone, those who are also on the bench and in the stands to support us.

    "Everyone was talking about our status as favourite, our attack, the group of death. We must assume our status with humility."

    Didier Deschamps is aiming to become the first person to win the European Championship and World Cup as both a player and coach, and was delighted with a resilient display.

    "We had a big match against a very good opponent," Deschamps told M6.

    "I knew that my players were going to be ready, we were fighting for everything, even if in the first half we could have got the ball out a little better. We did not suffer that much in the second period. It's a tough game.

    "This is our first game. In our group, taking these three points is important. We were at the level, this victory is good for us."

    Deschamps' counterpart Low said he could not have asked for any more effort from his Germany side, who mustered 10 attempts to France's four, albeit only one of them hit the target.

    "We really gave everything. We fought until the end, for 90 minutes," Low told beIN Sports.

    "What we missed was a goal. We conceded a goal that we could have avoided, but otherwise I have no criticism to make. We lost a match, but we continue."

    Germany next host defending champions Portugal, while France travel to Budapest to face Hungary.

  • France match early expectations thanks to Pogba, king of the unpredictable France match early expectations thanks to Pogba, king of the unpredictable

    There was a worrying incident shortly before France's Euro 2020 game with Germany involving a Greenpeace parachutist and the stadium Spidercam. No, honestly.

    The apparent protester, his chute emblazoned with 'Kick out oil', slowly circled his way towards the Allianz Arena pitch but collided with the mechanism by which the camera was suspended. Debris almost hit Didier Deschamps in the France dugout, while the man was given medical attention after coming to rest on the turf. Nobody was injured, thankfully.

    It turned out that surprising wonders dropping from the sky was the theme of the day, as France began their quest for continental glory with a 1-0 win in Munich. That's a circuitous route to talking about the spontaneous brilliance of Paul Pogba. No, honestly.

    Twenty minutes had gone in the first meeting of Group F's three big guns. Germany and France had nullified one another, their 3-4-3 and 4-3-1-2 systems keeping the previous two World Cup winners from laying a glove on each other. Before the game, Deschamps described these teams as the best two in the continent, and you could certainly not accuse either side of lacking respect for their opponents.

    Then, Pogba appeared. A throw-in from Benjamin Pavard, a one-two, a lay-off from Karim Benzema, and the ball was into the midfielder's feet. And then it was out of them, a languid, looping pass drifting over the heads of the German back three and into the path of Lucas Hernandez, the only player who seemed aware the move was even on. His mishit cross was promptly shinned into his own net by Mats Hummels, who was perhaps still wondering how the ball had got there.

     

    In many ways, it was a typical Pogba pass: it was incredible he even saw it but, once he had, of course he was going to try it. The Manchester United man is the king of the unanticipated, never shying away from the implausible, for whom the very idea of keeping it simple seems like an affront. At club level, it makes him a target for traditionalist critics; for France, he becomes the match-winner.

    One of Deschamps' real triumphs has been to construct an imperious unit out of France's mighty individuals. They allowed Germany more than 60 per cent of the possession but conceded only one shot on target, their defensive cohesion summed up by Antoine Griezmann sprinting back to challenge Joshua Kimmich on the right wing shortly before injury time.

    When the defence is this strong, and when N'Golo Kante is patrolling the middle, it gives Pogba the licence – the compulsion, even – to try the unexpected. It's why he rejected two simple passes to the left and drove away from his own box surrounded by three players, winning a free-kick that led to Adrien Rabiot hitting the post. It's why he found himself in the number 10 position 66 minutes in, another sublime square ball over the top finished stylishly by Kylian Mbappe but ruled out for offside. It's why Benzema's late tap-in was also disallowed, Mbappe having strayed beyond the last man because Pogba's attempt at an elaborate turn ended up delaying his own throughball.

    Pogba attempted 52 passes in total, more than anyone else for France. He had 78 touches, more than anyone else for France. He contested 20 duels, five aerial duels, won four fouls and made three interceptions – all more than anyone else for France. He won back the ball 12 times and gave it away a further 22, both, naturally, the highest figures in the contest.

    Matches at these tournaments are so often tactical, attritional battles, where the risky pass, the inspired finish can make all the difference. That's standard practice for Pogba, a player who reminds us there's no reason to fear falling when you live for flying.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.