Alan Brazil: Big Eck’s vital role in the rise of Scott McTominay at Manchester United

Manchester United's Scott McTominay (Martin Rickett/PA Wire)
Manchester United's Scott McTominay (Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

He was in danger of becoming a nowhere man for club and country.

But Scott McTominay looks increasingly capable of being a talisman for both Manchester United and Scotland.

Anybody who watched the midfielder shine for United against Barcelona last Tuesday night will know what I’m talking about.

Earlier this season, Scott was struggling to make an impact under Jose Mourinho.

Now, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s guidance, he’s showing his true colours.

The kid is only 22, but up against the likes of Barca’s Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic in midweek, he absolutely bossed it.

And don’t forget that part of his job – screening in front of United’s defence – was to keep tabs on Lionel Messi.

He did it with about as much ease as anyone I’ve ever seen – although I reckon the way Chris Smalling smashed the wee genius early on helped him out!

In the days since, his current manager has sung his praises, his old manager called him a “mad dog” on TV, and United fans at large reckon they’ve got a future club captain on their hands.

So as far as I’m concerned, he simply has to start in midfield for Scotland against Cyprus and Belgium in June.

I’m like every other Scotland fan. I love Callum McGregor’s guile and John McGinn’s wee terrier approach in midfield.

But with all due respect to them, they aren’t competing for places at club level with stars like Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic and being given the nod on a regular basis.

They also aren’t mixing it, and looking completely at home, in the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

McTominay had to be content with a role off the bench in Kazakhstan and San Marino.

The only headlines he made were negative after a misunderstanding over why he had sprinted up the tunnel at full-time after our 3-0 defeat in Nursultan.

If he’s fit – and his constitution is holding up – that can’t happen again next time around.

And I’m sure Alex McLeish and the guys around him don’t need me to tell them that. They know how to do their jobs better than me.

I know Big Eck is a big McTominay fan, too.

He was the man who drove down to Manchester United’s training ground last year to convince the kid to pick Scotland over England, while Gareth Southgate could only manage a text.

McTominay was one of the guys who travelled to Peru and Mexico for Alex’s first games in charge last summer and he has done everything asked of him.

For a deep-lying midfielder, coming off the bench is never going to be a glamour shift, but Scott has done it time and time again.

Now he has surely earned his reward at international level, just as he has at Old Trafford.

In February, when some were still questioning whether he had what it takes to make it at United, he was handed a new, long-term contract by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

It will keep him at the club until June, 2023.

By then, he will hope to have made himself the first name on the teamsheet – as Darren Fletcher did before him.

If he keeps on developing the way he is, I won’t be surprised if McTominay achieves his goal for United and for Scotland.

And even if Alex McLeish is no longer national manager by that point, the Tartan Army will at least have something to thank him for.