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Manchester United’s Scott McTominay has revealed that Scotland boss Steve Clarke advised him to start playing with a smile on his face ahead of the midfielder’s two-goal salvo against Spain during the international break.
McTominay scored twice against a strong La Roja side at Hampden Park on Tuesday evening to help Scotland to a famous victory in their Euro 2024 qualification group just three days after the marauding midfielder had bagged another brace off the bench against Cyprus.
Prior to this week’s qualifiers, McTominay had only scored once for his country, though his four-goal haul should equip him with fresh confidence for the remainder of the club campaign with Man Utd.
McTominay setting high expectations
Scott McTominay has endured a frustrating season in Manchester, where his game time has become limited under new Dutch boss Erik ten Hag. The arrival of high-class pair Christian Eriksen and Casemiro last summer pushed the 26-year-old academy graduate down the pecking order at Old Trafford and he has started just seven times in the Premier League in 2022/23.
However, McTominay has remained upbeat, saying :”You have to set high expectations for yourself,” said McTominay.
“You can’t just go into games hoping to do well. You must go in believing.”
With the aforementioned Casemiro serving a suspension, in-form McTominay could be handed a rare opportunity to shine at the base of midfield in Man Utd’s tough test at Newcastle on Sunday.
FULL TIME: Scotland 2-0 Spain.
A HUGE performance from Steve Clarke’s team 💪
Two goals from Scott McTominay either side of half time means it’s two wins out of two to start our European Qualifying campaign!#SCOESP pic.twitter.com/EjIrrBR76R
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) March 28, 2023
Clarke advice key says McTominay
Before McTominay’s heroics against Spain, his national team boss Steve Clarke, offered some sage advice to the Lancaster-born star which seemed to put a kick in his step.
“I spoke to the manager and he said, ‘I don’t think you’re playing with a smile on your face, and I want to see the smile come back out’.
“That was the first day I arrived and I thought, ‘Do you know what, he is right’.
“I felt the smile did need to come back on my face, and I need to start enjoying football and playing like I love it.”
“That’s sometimes hard when there is a lot going on in your life. But when he said that I went back to my room and thought he’d hit the nail on the head there. I got my head down and concentrated on my football, and that’s all I need to do.
“It was a really tough game against Spain. We knew that they are obviously a really top side with quality players all over the pitch. We weren’t naive to that going into the game.
“The manager said we would have to suffer without the ball, and that’s a given when you’re playing against a top team like Spain. They are going to have a lot of the ball and they control it very well. But I felt that we controlled the game even without the ball at times, which is pleasing for the manager as he implemented his game plan to perfection.”
McTominay’s future undecided
McTominay has only started one Premier League fixture since United’s harrowing 6-3 loss to Manchester rivals City in early October, and the midfielder was linked with a move away from his boyhood club in January.
Newcastle are thought to be leading the chase for McTominay, who has been tipped to leave his current club in the summer, though several other suitors are believed to be jostling for his signature.