In what has been one of the toughest periods of Sir Alex Ferguson’s life there was something deeply poignant about the thrilling conclusion to Manchester United’s come from behind win against Brentford on Saturday.
Old Trafford, the theatre of dreams, has been the home of so many incredible moments for the former Aberdeen manager in his incredible and unparalleled managerial career.
When injury time goals are named after you then you know you have contributed to more than your fair share of thrilling finales.
But Saturday was different.
The Ferguson family is in mourning following the death of Sir Alex’s wife of 57 years, Lady Cathy, on Thursday at the age of 84.
Arguably the greatest manager in the game was absent from Old Trafford as fans paid tribute during their side’s Premier League match against Brentford.
It has been a difficult start to the season for the Red Devils and they looked to be staring down the barrel of a third successive home defeat for the first time since 1962.
Brentford were on course for their first win at Old Trafford in 86 years as the clock ticked down.
Step forward United’s forgotten man Scott McTominay.
The Scotland international, a bit-part player for his club under Erik ten Hag, was sent on in the 87th minute in the hope of helping his side rescue a point.
He did so much more.
McTominay’s contribution was brief, but telling, as he fired home an equaliser in the 93rd minute.
The United support roared, no doubt more in relief than joy at the midfielder’s goal but he was not finished.
Four minutes later the Red Devils were celebrating the most unlikely of victories as McTominay headed home a dramatic winner.
It was a fitting tribute to the absent former manager.
Sir Alex Ferguson would have approved
Ferguson’s astounding list of accomplishments from his glittering career at United loom large over every manager who has sat in the Old Trafford dugout since he retired.
He built one team after another packed full of international superstars but amongst the household names burned a steely determination.
For every Cristiano Ronaldo, Eric Cantona or Ryan Giggs, there was a midfield driving force such as Paul Ince, Nicky Butt or Darren Fletcher.
The blend of flair and steel.
Ten Hag could be done with adding some more of that steel which McTominay could offer – just ask any Scotland fan.
McTominay has become Scotland’s Mr Dependable
He may have been in the wilderness at club level but when it comes to donning the dark blue of Scotland it’s no understatement to suggest the United midfielder is in the form of his life for his country.
Joint second leading goalscorer in Euro 2024 qualifying with six goals, McTominay has become Mr Reliable as far as the Tartan Army and national team boss Steve Clarke are concerned.
It’s not so much a case of can you pick him given he hardly kicks a ball for United and more a matter of how can you leave him out given his record for Scotland?
Scotland fans will not trouble themselves too much about events at Old Trafford but they will be pleased to see one of their own about to meet up with his international team-mates with a timely spring in his step this week.
After all, the stakes are huge for Scotland ahead of their trip to Spain as the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign reaches the home straight.
The top two qualify and Scotland are six points clear of their opponents this week, with three games to play.
More importantly they are eight points clear of third-placed Norway.
Norway must win all three games and hope Scotland falter at the finish line.
Scotland know victory in Spain means they can book their places in Germany next summer.
An in-form and free-scoring McTominay, who netted twice in the 2-0 win against the Spaniards at Hampden, will be music to Clarke’s ears.
Privately, away from the public glare at this most difficult time, another McTominay masterclass would no doubt receive a nod of approval from another proud Scot in Sir Alex.