Manchester United ace Scott McTominay had an awkward exchange with a reporter when he was quizzed on comments made by Ralf Rangnick "square passes".
United's new interim manager made a winning start to life in the Premier League with last weekend's 1-0 triumph over Crystal Palace at Old Trafford.
The German innovator set United up in the 4-2-2-2 shape that he's become synonymous with over the years in the Bundesliga.
And Rangnick had praise for McTominay and Fred, who formed United's midfield pivot. Fred also went on to score the winning goal.
He did, however, highlight the duo's tendency to play square passes as a weakness when speaking after the match. something that McTominay seemingly took offence to when a Sky Sports reporter touched on the subject this week.
"After the Palace game, he [Rangnick] said that if he had one criticism of you and Fred, it would be that there were too many square passes," asked the reporter – which didn't go down well with McTominay.
The United midfielder snapped back: "He said 'one' not 'too many'."
The reporter, seemingly a tad surprised, continued with: "One from him, one from you, too many as a team. On that, is he asking you to be a bit braver on the ball? Is that the message he's trying to get out of you two as a pair?
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McTominay then added: "Well, pretty much every team in the Premier League presses the middle of the pitch with the biggest intensity. You look at Liverpool, they close the middle of the pitch because they don't want you to play in the middle."
Despite his spiky retort, it seems as though the Scottish star and Fred could be the perfect pivot for Rangnick's intense approach.
The 'McFred' combination was often deployed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – and blasted by fed-up fans.
But Rangnick hinted the pairing was anything but a flop after the win against Palace last weekend.
"If you play the way that we played today, with regard to intensity, being on the front foot, playing very proactively, and having four offensive players ahead of Scotty and Fred – with Jadon, Bruno, Cristiano and Marcus – it’s highly important that you have players who are very disciplined, who are proactively aggressive against the ball," Rangnick explained.
"And both Scotty and Fred are almost perfect defensively on that. They did one or two or three mistakes, especially in the first half there were two square passes – one from Scott, one from Fred.
"I don’t like those kinds of balls in midfield in those positions. But overall, when the other team is in possession of the ball, both Fred and Scotty they are almost perfect for that kind of football."
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