Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer urged by Rio Ferdinand to ‘build around’ leading star

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a player who he can “build around” in Scott McTominay, reckons club legend Rio Ferdinand, who was full of praise for the player’s character on the pitch. The midfielder’s fourth goal of the season, in the 1-0 win over Watford, put United into the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday night.

McTominay headed in after just four minutes as the Red Devils defeated the Championship promotion hopefuls 1-0 at Old Trafford.

Ferdinand picked out the Scot as the only player to truly perform for a much-changed United team, with Solskjaer resting many of his usual starters.

The legendary former United centre-back told BT Sport: “Ole will be happy to be in the next round most importantly. This game was opportunities for the fringe players.

“He’s not a fringe player but McTominay was probably the only player to the standard you expect or exceeded that standard.

“Probably a missed opportunity for others who are trying to force their way into the manager’s plans on a more regular basis.

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“But again, the most important thing for the players and the club was to get into the next round.

“A lot of these young players and players on the peripheral of the first eleven want to come in and use this game as a launchpad to get into the team.

“Some players didn’t get to the heights they would’ve liked to but you’ve got to take into consideration many of them haven’t had played many minutes or at all this season.

“Getting work into your body is good but you want to perform and you want to showcase what you’re about.”

Offering greater analysis of the performance of McTominay, who wore the captain’s armband until half time when skipper Harry Maguire replaced the injured Eric Bailly, Ferdinand insisted that the academy graduate can be a pivotal player for the Red Devils in years to come.

Ferdinand said of the midfielder, who has amassed 106 appearances for United now: “You can see in the way he conducts himself but more importantly how he plays out on the pitch, he’s whole hearted, he covers the ground well, he takes responsibility in situations.

“You need all that as a captain. You need somebody who people can look to and say, ‘That’s someone I’d like to follow.’

“He’s got them sort of traits. He’s a young lad still but he’s been at the club since he was five years old so he knows the fabric and what it means to be a Man United player.

“He attacks the header really well, it’s two movements to get the end of this, there’s a lot of thinking behind it. There’s also a desire to get on the end of things.

“He has the credentials I think to be a mainstay in this team and be a real important member of this team for years, years and years to come because of how he applies himself.

“It’s not just your football ability sometimes. There’s more to it than that. Your mental capacity to take things on board but also the ability to go out there and accept responsibility and be the man that people look to for that inspiration.

“He seems to doing that more and more, week-in, week-out. I think it’s the level of consistency [he needs to improve]. As a young player you’re always going to see glimpses of it but with him it’s about continuing this. He’s in a good vein of form at the moment.

“He’s almost certainly now become one of the main players in that midfield area, I’d say. He’s one I think that Ole can build around in that respect.

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“He’s not the one you’d say is the most imaginative or the person with the most skills because there’s other things he brings to the game that a lot of the other players don’t bring.

“That’s the intensity, the work rate, the effort. Importantly, the responsibility he takes on when he tracks back and covers Maguire out of position. As a centre-back as I was, you appreciate that, him covering them gaps when they’re left open. That’s important.”

Speaking to BBC Sport, United boss Solskjaer gushed with praise for McTominay and said: “Scott has had a very good season.

“He is being more and more dangerous, we know he can be a box-to-box midfielder.

“He should have scored a few more on set-plays before now because he is a monster of a human being. I am very happy he got the goal.”

He added to BT Sport: “He delivered and he always does. He’s a leader and I thought today I’d give it him to see how he reacts. He was brilliant today.

“We have always trusted our young men coming through and Scott is one who we believe has the Manchester United DNA in him and knows what it is to be a Manchester United player.”

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