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Nicky Butt: Scott McTominay 'The First Name' on Manchester United Teamsheet

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2019

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07: Scott McTominay of Manchester United celebrates following his sides victory in the Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on December 07, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Nicky Butt has said he believes the form of Scott McTominay has made the Scotland international one of the first picks in Manchester United's team.

Butt, who is now United's head of first-team development, told Dominic Booth of the Manchester Evening News the young midfielder has impressed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his staff alongside emerging full-back Brandon Williams.

"Those two lads have done amazing. Scott is probably the first name on the teamsheet at the minute, and Brandon has done really well.

"It's a mixture that makes Man United players. It's not just always about raw talent, there's a lot more than that.

"There's been many players who have come through the gates at the training ground and been better than most people but haven't made it. It takes more than that to make it through to the first team.

"Talent gets you through the gates, but determination, grit and drive keeps you here for many many years. That's what we've got to do with our academy players, because without the will and the drive to do well, you're not going to make it here."

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04: Scott McTominay of Manchester United and Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur  during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on December 4, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom.
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

McTominay, 23, was a forward during his Red Devils youth career, but his dynamic midfield play was rewarded with a first-team debut in 2017.

Former United coach Jose Mourinho integrated the Lancaster-born player into his squad, but it's under Solskjaer's tutelage McTominay has developed into a regular starter.

United have attempted to once again embrace their principles of promoting academy players after Mourinho's departure 12 months ago. McTominay has proved patience is needed for young players to assume the huge responsibility of wearing the United shirt.

The club's academy has produced forwards Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood, and the pair—despite being at different levels of development—should save United plenty of money to invest in other key positions to improve the squad.

Brandon Williams (right)
Brandon Williams (right)Dave Thompson/Associated Press/Associated Press

Williams has forced his way into the reckoning with Axel Tuanzebe in defence, and the United midfield has featured academy graduates Jesse Lingard, James Garner, Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong this season.

Solskjaer's faith in youth will mean the club's rebuild will take time while their competitors cherry-pick at the transfer market to buy established stars.

If the Norwegian can find the correct balance across his squad with youth and new additions, United might soon be in a position to fight for the top trophies once again.