Man Utd have unsung hero more important than Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min | Football | Sport

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Erik ten Hag was again left lauding his leading Premier League goalscorer after the 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Sunday, even if it’s not the player many fans would have predicted. Scott McTominay came off the bench to head home late on and score for the seventh time in the top-flight this season, keeping his side in contention for a top-four finish.

That followed telling contributions from the Scottish midfielder in the wins over Wolves and West Ham, again as a substitute. And now the statistics have underlined just how crucial he’s been to the club in the 2023/24 campaign, with his goals proving telling in terms of United’s points tally.

Indeed, in October, the 27-year-old was introduced in the 90th minute with his side trailing 1-0 against Brentford. He dramatically scored twice in injury time to earn the three points, and then struck again the following week as the Red Devils beat Sheffield United.

McTominay grabbed another brace in December in the 2-1 win over Chelsea, and scored within two minutes of coming off the bench when United beat Wolves 4-3 this week. He followed that up with another late cameo and an assist in the 3-0 win over West Ham before his late heroics at Villa Park.

Overall, his contributions have yielded 12 extra points for the Red Devils. In theory, that makes him more crucial to his team than Son Heung-min, whose goals have been worth 10 points to Tottenham.

Dominic Solanke has earned Bournemouth nine points and while Erling Haaland has 16 Premier League goals this season, his goals have only meant an extra eight points for Manchester City. Mohammed Salah, two behind Haaland in the charts, has contributed the same amount of points to Liverpool.

Bukayo Saka and Richarlison match Haaland and Salah with their respective contributions to Arsenal and Tottenham, making McTominay’s haul all the more impressive given his limited game time. And the Scottish international was praised by United legend Roy Keane afterwards for his mentality towards not starting games.

His Dutch manager was also complimentary, calling McTominay an “example” for the rest of his squad. “He is ready to bring this energy. He is always giving the spirit in the week, when he is training as opposition, working on himself. He is ready for one minute, ready for 90 minutes. It is great to have such a player.”

Ironically, Ten Hag’s decision to bring him on in place of Marcus Rashford was initially deemed to be a negative one by pundits who suggested United were settling for a draw. But Ten Hag added: “With Scott, you bring fresh legs in the pressing, also one who can make (it into) the box, score a goal.”

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