Ralf Rangnick believes Scott McTominay could be Manchester United captain in “a couple of years” and hailed the “outstanding” David de Gea following a 1-0 FA Cup win over Aston Villa.
McTominay scored the only goal of the third-round contest at Old Trafford on Monday, heading home midfield partner Fred’s inviting whipped cross after only seven minutes.
That was enough for the Red Devils to set up a fourth-round tie at home to Championship side Middlesbrough, but Villa were unfortunate to crash out as they were the better side.
Danny Ings had a goal ruled out for a foul by Jacob Ramsey on Edinson Cavani following a lengthy VAR check, referee Michael Oliver eventually making the decision after being told to check the pitchside monitor.
Ollie Watkins struck the crossbar in the first half and also had a goal disallowed due to Ings being offside soon after his fellow striker’s goal was chalked off.
Amid talk of unrest in the United dressing room following a 1-0 defeat to Wolves, there was relief for Rangnick after a fortunate victory.
The interim Red Devils boss picked out McTominay and De Gea for praise after an unconvincing display from his side.
Asked about McTominay’s contribution, he told BBC Sport: “He is an academy boy, his energy is amazing. He now also starts scoring goals and also with some leadership skills.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if in a couple of years he would be the captain of this team.”
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He added: “We have to develop the team into a clean sheet team and that was another one today but still David de Gea was outstanding again for me today.
“I would have wanted him to have less saves in total, I think we had four or five shots on goal but again we can still improve even in that area.”
Despite United being second best for the majority of the game, Rangnick said there were signs they are improving.
Asked if he had seen progress in the performance, he replied: “Yes. To say that this was a perfect game, nobody would believe that of course it was not.
“We still have quite a few things we can get better at, but the clean sheet was important today and we worked together. There are still a lot of things to improve but it is easier to do that with a 1-0 win.”