And McTominay has done it

Nilesh Surana
5 min readOct 9, 2023

Manchester United always (used to) score in the last minutes.

This blog was first published on my Substack.

Like McTominay, I was watching the BECKHAM documentary too, and wondering when was the last time we scored two goals in injury time. Looks like it was bound to happen in the loving memory of Lady Cathy Ferguson (Sir Alex Ferguson’s wife who passed away on October 6).

I was born in the same year when Sir Alex became the manager of Manchester United. I started following the Red Devils ten years later as Premier League broadcasts began in India only in August 1996. Till then I had only read in The Telegraph about how a Scottish manager had led United to their first title in 26 years in 1992–93 (when the current Premier League was formulated) and won two more in 1993–94 and 1995–96.

United won the title in 1996–97 with a game to spare but what stood out for me was the never give up attitude of the players led by King Cantona (who would surprisingly retire from football at the end of the season at the age of 30). They played out 6 draws with equalizing goals in the last 20 minutes of the game and won 4 games by a 1 goal margin in the last 15 minutes. And I became a fan by the end of the season.

Then came the fairytale season in 1998–99 after winning nothing in 1997–97. It began with David Beckham scoring in the 90th minute to salvage a 2–2 draw vs Leicester City. And that started a run like never before. United lost only 5 times in the season. One of them being the Charity Cup match vs Arsenal (who had done the double in 1997–98 and thus played United who had finished second in the league). We lost only 3 times in the league. And then the 5th round of the League Cup against eventual winners, Tottenham Hotspur.

That season, United won 11 games in the last 10 minutes and the fans could smell the Treble. So even when United were down 1–0 to Bayern Munich (who were also chasing the Treble) till the 90th minute, the commentator still said, “United always score”. And we did score. Not once but twice in Fergie Time through substitutes Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær to reach the promised land.

Never ever had I imagined that I would experience something like that again. Till last night. United were 0–1 down to Brentford till the 90th minute and all hope was lost considering the dreadful form we have been in. But academy graduate Scott McTominay had other plans. The Scottish (surprise, surprise) midfielder scored in the 93rd and 97th minute to give United an unlikely 2–1 victory.

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I do not want to review the full match because we were terrible till the 87th minute. That’s when Erik Ten Hag used his last roll of the dice. McTominay came on Amrabat and things started happening. And I do want to talk about the 3 goals (one disallowed).

  1. 89’ Brentford concede a free kick on United’s left. Bruno fires a shot at goal and Brentford’s goalkeeper Strakosha (on club debut) pushes it out to Garnacho on the left. Garnacho crosses from the byline, the ball is flicked by Martial and seems to have got a touch from McTominay before coming off Brentford defender Ajer to find the net. It’s ruled out for offside though as Martial was clearly offside when the ball was crossed by Garnacho. But Garnacho and McTominay had clearly decided they were not giving up.
  2. 90 + 3’ GOOOOAAAAALLLLLL Garnacho beats Roerslev to reach the byline before cutting back to Dalot. His close-range effort is only pushed away by Strakosha. McTominay is there to control the ball and volley the rebound into the bottom-left corner. Game on!
  3. 90 + 7’ GOOOOAAAAALLLLLL McTominay again! United win a deep free-kick due to a handball, which is hoisted towards Maguire at the far post. Harry heads it into the centre, where McTominay escapes his marker to head it home! Strakosha gets a touch, but he could only divert it against the post and the ball finds the net for a third time in 8 minutes. From 1–0 down, United lead 2–1 and it’s just seconds remaining.
Scott McTominay (left) celebrates after scoring his and Manchester United’s second goal to give the home side a win against Brentford. Photograph: Ash Donelon/Manchester United/Getty Images

United won 2–1 in one of the most dramatic victories (only knocking out PSG in Champions League comes close) since that 1999 treble victory over Bayern. And memories came rushing back. Have this side finally learned to not give up?

Only time will tell but I’m so happy by what McTominay said in his post-match interview. (highlighting the most important things he said)

“We were watching thinking this is a tough game — it’s not easy against any team in the Premier League now, especially teams so well organised,” he told MUTV.

“But you have to bide your time and pick your moments, and that’s what this club is about — never giving up.”

“I can’t put into words the feeling that I had when the second one went in, it was like an out-of-body experience,” he said.

“I was watching the David Beckham documentary last night and you can see all the history and the people behind the club and that’s who the lads do it for and that’s what means the most.”

“It’s so important that we all come together and that’s what it means at this football club — we do it for the people.

That’s the same as me, I’m a fan so I want us to do well.”

Manchester United need this kind of attitude from all players if we have to turn around this season. McTominay has rightly been not playing but one thing you can’t deny is his passion for the club. As Ten Hag said post match, “His feeling for this club is very strong, he plays with all his heart. He will always defend the colours of this club.”

Will this be the turning point? We will hope for that post the international break on October 22 vs Sheffield United. Till then, I’m going to enjoy the win and watch the 2 goals on repeat.

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Nilesh Surana

Marketer at Fyle | Writer at Hacker Noon, The Startup, picksaas | Manchester United fan | Instagram: foodie.kismet