The Manchester United midfielder is growing used to transferring his loyalties to different managers. McTominay was unsettled when Jose Mourinho left Manchester United shortly after he broke into the Old Trafford side.
Alex McLeish used him only as a substitute in his last four matches in charge but he did persuade McTominay to pick Scotland over England. It was a success McLeish described as his “first triumph” after returning to the post of manager early last year. But just as Mourinho gave way to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, McLeish was moved aside for Clarke after a calamitous defeat against Kazakhstan. “That’s football,” said McTominay. “Managers move on, and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. All the boys are really focused on working under Steve Clarke.
“I feel like you have to earn that faith and respect from top coaches,” added McTominay. “Like Ole at the minute – he is a top coach and an even better manager and you have to earn that [respect].
“If you don’t earn that then someone will take your place. It’s the same with the new boss here. You have to show you’re willing to die for him on the pitch. You have to come off the pitch feeling that was all you could give and then go on to the next game in the same way.”
McTominay has already earned seven caps since delighting McLeish with his decision to pledge his international future to Scotland. Although born and brought up in Lancaster, he is eligible to play for Scotland through his Glasgwegian father, Frank.
England manager Gareth Southgate was vying with McLeish at the time for McTominay’s services. His continued upward curve with United, where he has excelled further forward as well as in front of the back four, vindicated McLeish’s strenuous efforts.
Still only 22, McTominay starred when United beat Paris St Germain 3-1 in the Parc des Princes
to win their Champions League last- 16 tie in March.
It’s very likely he would have forced his way into Southgate’s plans by now had he opted for England. But McTominay insists he has no regrets as he prepares to stake a claim for a starting berth in the forthcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Cyprus and Belgium.
“Not at all, I never thought that once,” he said. “A lot of people do ask me about that but I’ve forgotten about that now. It was my decision to play for Scotland and my family couldn’t be more proud that they can see me, hopefully, playing many more games and getting lots of goals as well.
“You have to take the belief from all the fans that you should be here. When people ask, I say: ‘what sort of question is that? Ask me about something else, ask me about my holidays!’ That question is irrelevant now. It’s two years ago and I’ve forgotten about it.”
McTominay has a simple rule for career advancement: please the manager. He intends to do for Clarke what he did for Mourinho, who he still keeps in touch with. “He [Mourinho] is a top, top man and the way he looked after me was incredible,” he said. “It is no coincidence that he likes players who want to do everything for the manager and that’s the type of boy I am.
“I am not interested in anything else other than doing my best on the pitch.
“People can have their opinions and say whatever they want but first and foremost you have to please the manager and then please the fans as well. Any success that comes with that is a bonus.”
McTominay was conflicted while watching Liverpool’s Champions League win over Spurs on Saturday night alongside his Manchester United-supporting family.
On one hand he was in despair at United’s greatest rivals winning a sixth European Cup, taking them three clear of the Old Trafford club. But, on the other, he was delighted for Scotland skipper Andy Robertson, who is set to join up with the squad later this week after some deserved rest.
“It was amazing to see Andy from where he’s been to where he is now,” he said. “I’m a Man United man through and through, so I can’t lie it wasn’t easy, it was a tough watch.
“But it was good to see a fellow Scotsman on the pitch and beautiful to see what he’s gone through from 2012 to now. It’s amazing for him and we’re relishing getting him back and, hopefully, kicking on in a Scotland jersey.”