David de Gea may have scooped the Manchester United Player of the Year award, but the gala night was momentous for other reasons too as their manager, Jose Mourinho, bestowed the Manager’s Player of the Year gong on young gun Scott McTominay even as the Portuguese admitted the competition was fierce between the Scot and Nemanja Matic.
“The meaning is important. I think the dream of every boy that arrives at the club is to play for the first team. When the dream becomes true, the next dream is to play in big matches and to play in the Champions League and eventually to play for the national team,” Mourinho was quoted as saying by the club website.
“This player gives everything, in five or six months, so my Player of the Year has to be Scott McTominay.”
While Matic has undoubtedly been the signing of the season for the Red Devils, McTominay’s displays in the middle of the park have been a revelation for United.
“I was doubting between him and Matic, to be honest,” Mourinho told MUTV later.
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“Matic told me last year: ‘I want to play for you. I want to play for Manchester United and I’m going to do it’. He made it happen and, this season, he has been very consistent for the balance of the team. Playing, I think, every match.”
With Paul Pogba going through an indifferent patch during the middle of the season, McTominay emerged as Mourinho’s go-to man to partner Matic in the central midfield pivot.
And the tall midfielder, who chose to represent Scotland over England at the senior international level, vindicated his manager’s faith in his ability by delivering a series of assured performances.
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“I was going for him but, when I understood, in the two awards for the young players, Scott was not getting one, I decided to change as it’s not acceptable. He is the one that did everything. He started the season in the Academy and ends the season playing in big matches, in Premier League derbies and Champions League matches, while becoming an important player for the squad.
Still, it wasn’t a bad night for Matic either as he picked up the Goal of the Year gong for his outstanding effort against Crystal Palace earlier in the season.
“So I thought this kid cannot go home without an award, so he’s going to get my award.”