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

  • Austria v North Macedonia: Arnautovic decision due as Foda eyes long-awaited Euros win Austria v North Macedonia: Arnautovic decision due as Foda eyes long-awaited Euros win

    Austria boss Franco Foda has a selection dilemma in Bucharest as he bids to deliver the country's first ever win at the European Championship.

    No team have played more games at the Euros without earning at least one win than Austria, who have fallen short in all six of their past finals fixtures.

    The Group C clash with North Macedonia on Sunday is one in which many expect Austria to prevail, but Foda must decide whether Marko Arnautovic, the team's star forward, starts the match.

    Arnautovic has indicated he feels ready for a pivotal role after recovering from a thigh injury, but there is no certainty the 32-year-old will play from the start.

    The former West Ham man, now with Shanghai Port, played half an hour for Austria in a friendly against Slovakia last Sunday but Foda may prefer a match-fit Sasa Kalajdzic to lead his attack.

    Foda said in a pre-game news conference: "Ultimately, I have to make the decision about whether Marko is ready for 90 minutes or not."

    A fit and firing Arnautovic's value to his country is obvious, having been directly involved in seven goals in his eight appearances during the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign (six goals, one assist).

    Foda also kept North Macedonia guessing about where David Alaba will feature, the erstwhile Bayern Munich star and new Real Madrid recruit being a top performer both in defence and midfield.

    "We have decided where he will play," Foda said, but gave no detail about that decision.

    The Austria coach added: "We can make history, and we want to. We absolutely want to win and start the European Championship with a positive result. I have a good feeling."

    North Macedonia are making their big-tournament debut as an independent nation and proud captain Goran Pandev said: "Believe that we are ready and we will do our best to make the public and the Macedonian people happy again."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Austria - Marcel Sabitzer

    Sabitzer is coming off a strong season in the German Bundesliga with RB Leipzig and has been linked with clubs including Roma and Arsenal. Austria have plenty of decent pedigree in their squad, but the man who scored eight goals and had three assists on league duty for his club side last term, creating 30 chances in all, is one of a handful with real star quality.

    North Macedonia - Goran Pandev

    At the age of 37, Pandev leads his country on the big stage, and what a moment it will be for him. A star forward in Serie A for over 15 years, notably with Lazio, Inter, Napoli and Genoa, Pandev may be past his prime but he will hope to lead by example at this tournament.

    KEY OPTA FACTS

    - These teams have only played each other twice before – both times in qualifying for this tournament – with Austria winning those matches 4-1 and 2-1.

    - Including the play-off rounds, North Macedonia won each of their final three games in Euro 2020 qualifying – as many as they had won in their previous nine games of the qualifying campaign beforehand (D2 L4).

    - Austria have yet to reach the knockout stages or even win a single game at the European Championships (D2 L4).

    - Austria have won only one of their last 15 games at major tournaments (D5 L9 – World Cups and Euros), a 2-1 victory against United States in the group phase of the 1990 World Cup. They last reached the knockout stages of a major tournament at the 1954 World Cup, finishing third.

    - Austria have scored only two goals in their six games at the European Championship finals; one of them was a penalty (Ivica Vastic vs Poland, Euro 2008). They have never been ahead at any point in those six games.

    - North Macedonia's 1.25 goals scored per game during Euro 2020 qualifiers (15 in 12 games) was the joint-lowest average of any team to have qualified for the finals, alongside Wales.

  • Christian plays football beautifully – UEFA chief Ceferin hails 'football unity' in message to Eriksen Christian plays football beautifully – UEFA chief Ceferin hails 'football unity' in message to Eriksen

    UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin hailed the "unity of the football family" in wishing a speedy recovery to Denmark star Christian Eriksen.

    Inter midfielder Eriksen collapsed to the ground with no one around him shortly before half-time of the Euro 2020 Group B fixture between the Danes and Finland in Copenhagen.

    Team-mates formed a protective shield around Eriksen as medical personnel rushed to resuscitate him, and the match was suspended.

    There was later a positive update from the Danish Football Union (DBU), which said Eriksen was conscious and set for further medical examinations.

    Players, pundits and fans alike united to rally around and send good thoughts to Eriksen, with UEFA chief Ceferin hailing that collective spirit.

    "Moments like this put everything in life into perspective. I wish Christian a full and speedy recovery and pray his family has strength and faith," the president's statement, released via UEFA, read.

    "At these times, the unity of the football family is so strong and he and his family carry with them the good wishes and prayers of everyone. I heard of fans of both teams chanting his name. Football is beautiful and Christian plays it beautifully."

    Following consultations with both sets of players and coaching staffs, the fixture was resumed at 20:30 CET.

    DBU football director Peter Moller later told Danish publication DR that Eriksen had been in contact with DBU officials and his team-mates.

    Moller praised the "lightning fast treatment" Eriksen received at the stadium, which he said "saved" the former Tottenham playmaker.

  • Denmark v Finland to resume with Christian Eriksen in 'awake' in hospital Denmark v Finland to resume with Christian Eriksen in 'awake' in hospital

    UEFA has confirmed Denmark's Euro 2020 fixture against Finland will be completed on Saturday after Christian Eriksen was described as "awake" and in a "stable condition" in hospital.

    The match was suspended shortly before half-time of the Group B fixture after Inter midfielder Eriksen collapsed to the ground with no one around him.

    Team-mates and referee Anthony Taylor called for immediate help from medical staff, with the players forming a protective barrier around Eriksen while efforts were made to resuscitate him.

    UEFA later said the match was suspended due to a "medical emergency", but positive news followed with the Danish Football Union stating Eriksen was conscious and set for "further examinations" after being taken to hospital.

    European football's governing body confirmed the fixture in Copenhagen would resume at 20:30 CET, while the other fixture in the pool between Belgium and Russia was also given the green light to take place at 21:00 CET.

    A statement from UEFA read: "The request made by players of both teams, UEFA has agreed to restart the match between Denmark and Finland tonight at 20:30 CET (TBC).

    "The match has been suspended due to a medical emergency which involved Denmark’s Christian Eriksen. The player in now in hospital and in a stable condition. UEFA wishes Christian Eriksen a full and speedy recovery and wishes to thank both teams for their exemplary attitude."

    UEFA said the remaining five minutes of the first half would take place, followed by a brief five-minutes for half-time, followed by the second half of the match.

    Eriksen was sent messages from around the football world on social media following the concerning incident.

    Former club Tottenham – where he spent six and a half years – posted on Twitter: "All of our thoughts are with Christian Eriksen and his family."

    Harry Kane played with Eriksen at Spurs and had been due to face the media alongside England manager Gareth Southgate on the eve of their meeting with Croatia at Wembley.

    The news conference was cancelled and the Football Association said: "Our thoughts this evening are with Christian Eriksen and his family, and all connected with the Danish Football Union."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.