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England legend can’t believe what he saw Man United star do at Euros, usually a ‘massive threat’

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There’s nothing that gets people’s backs up quite like the sight of an unorthodox corner taker.

Harry Kane pinging ill-advised knuckleballs into the Iceland penalty area became, in the eyes of some, a fitting image which epitomised England’s dreadful Euro 2016 campaign. And who could forget the time Phil Jones was tasked by Louis van Gaal to deliver set-pieces against Queens Park Rangers?

A similar debate is raising it’s head in Scotland, meanwhile, after Manchester United‘s Scott McTominay was placed on corner kick duty for Sunday’s make or break clash with Hungary. A game which turned out to be very much ‘break’, as it transpired.

For Stuart Pearce, England legend speaking on talkSPORT following Hungary’s 100th minute winner, it was a decision nothing short of baffling.

McTominay, after all, has scored 19 goals for club and country since that brace against Spain in early-2023. He is not only Scotland’s biggest threat in the penalty area, he is also one of their biggest players in a very literal sense.

Why Tartan Army Steve Clarke felt the 6ft 4ins McTominay would be better served firing in crosses rather than sticking his sizeable head on the end of one is anyone’s guess.

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Scott McTominay of Scotland coaches his teammates during the Group A - UEFA EURO 2024 match between Scotland and Switzerland at Cologne Stadium on ...

Photo by Joris Verwijst/BSR Agency/Getty Images

Manchester United’s Scott McTominay crashes out of Euro 2024

“When I saw him taking corners…” Pearce begins (24 June, 10.50am). “McTominay is a massive threat.

“Going into any game, if you said to me ‘who is going to break the deadlock for Scotland?’ McTominay springs to mind. It’s the first choice.

“So he’s got to be in and around the goal as often as you can possibly get him.”

McTominay was the only Scottish player to find the net in the group-stage too. It was his admittedly heavily deflected strike which gave Clarke’s side the lead against Switzerland as Scotland avoided defeat for the one and only time on German soil.

McTominay was the man on set pieces during that 1-1 draw too. Former Arsenal playmaker Paul Merson summed up the tactic pretty neatly on X too, highlighting the physical differences between the player taking Scotland’s corners and the players awaiting them in the penalty area.

6ft 4 Scott McTominay taking a corner with 5ft 7 Billy Gilmour in the middle 🤔

— Paul Merson (@PaulMerse) June 19, 2024

Former United boss David Moyes may well feel vindicated, too, after urging Clarke to instil McTominay in the same box-crashing role which saw him emerge as such a reliable goal-threat under Erik ten Hag last term.

“Get Scott McTominay in the Hungary box. That has to happen as much as possible if Scotland are going to get the result they need in their last game in Group A,” Moyes told BBC Sport, comments which aged pretty well after Sunday night’s performance.

“It was not too long ago that McTominay was as used as centre-half under Steve Clarke for a period but, more recently, he has played higher up the pitch – which is where I feel you get the best out of him.”

David Moyes wanted Man United duo at West Ham

Moyes, meanwhile, also opened up on his attempts to sign the Carrington graduate for West Ham United last summer alongside Harry Maguire.

“It was always going to be hard to replace Declan Rice with any one player when he joined Arsenal, and we were not planning to do that – we wanted to bring in a couple of midfielders instead,” adds Moyes, who was replaced at the London Stadium by Julen Lopetegui in May.

We bought two really good players in James Ward-Prowse and Edson Alvarez, so that was the cover. But Scott was certainly one of the players we had a big interest in as well.

“He is a good all-round midfielder, but to me his best attributes are arriving in the area, or the edges of it, at the right time to score or make some chances.

“McTominay was a player who I felt I needed at the time, but we didn’t quite get it over the line and he went on to score a lot of big goals for Manchester United last season instead.”

  • READ: Manchester United stars at Euro 2024, fixtures, kick-off times

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