Why Erik ten Hag wanted Benny McCarthy at Manchester United

On Sunday, Erik ten Hag defined why he has introduced Benny McCarthy to Manchester United as a coach, a narrative introduced by The Athletic the day prior to this.

“There was nonetheless one place in our teaching workers that I wanted to fill,” Ten Hag advised MUTV, “somebody with a distinct voice, and Benny is that one.

“He has expertise as a supervisor, he was a coach at the skilled stage and was a former striker — a very profitable striker as nicely. He will give attention to positioning and attacking. I’m not saying just for the strikers, but in addition the combination from the full-backs and midfielders.”

It was seen as a left-field appointment by some who didn’t share Bruno Fernandes’ enthusiasm.

McCarthy was a hero of the Portugal worldwide, a boyhood Boavista fan who nonetheless reveres and remembers him profitable the 2003-04 Champions League closing together with his aspect and was delighted by the information. And now he will get to work with him.

McCarthy speaks Portuguese (from Porto), Spanish (from Celta Vigo), English (from childhood in South Africa) and Dutch (from Ajax). He can even converse within the native languages ​​of the Cape Flats, the world close to Cape Town the place he grew up taking part in in an off-the-cuff league the place gangsters wager cash on their favored groups.

McCarthy was raised in Hanover Park, a tricky neighborhood of strong values ​​scarred by the results of medicine and gangsterism. He was a greater cricketer than footballer at age 11 – thought of himself a depraved fly-half in rugby too, however soccer was his manner out. He was knowledgeable by 16, the place he was immersed within the tradition and surrounded by gamers with names like “Bazooka”, of whom he mentioned “he would hammer the ball so onerous that the keeper had no probability” or John “Shoes” Moshoeu who “had unbelievable ft and regarded like he was sporting dancing sneakers.”

“My idol was a legendary participant known as Doctor Khumalo – that was his actual title,” he mentioned. “His nickname was ’16 Valve’. He was like Paul Scholes, the brains of the operation and named after the VW Golf which got here out and was super-fast. Doctor was so sluggish that I could not perceive the title, however it was due to his fast pondering.”

You do not get uninteresting quotes from Benny McCarthy.

Ten Hag has identified since he took the United job that he wanted one other coach on the workers. Neither he nor his assistant Mitchell van de Gaag knew McCarthy, however, like lots of people in soccer, knew of him.

McCarthy received the Golden Boot in Portugal in that 2003-04 season, he was the Premier League’s second-top scorer to Didier Drogba with Blackburn Rovers three years later. He was a high striker.

Steve McClaren, now a fellow assistant to Ten Hag, had tried to signal McCarthy as a participant when he was Middlesbrough supervisor, however couldn’t get a piece allow for him.

McCarthy is a pupil of Jose Mourinho, his former Porto boss. He considers Mourinho’s defining time as “beating United” en path to that European title 18 years in the past.

“How we ready for the video games, how he motivated and psyched the gamers. It was seen as not possible for Porto at the time, however he proved everybody flawed.”


Jose Mourinho makes a degree to Porto gamers Maniche and Benny McCarthy throughout coaching forward of their 2004 Champions League closing win over Monaco (Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

That was when McCarthy gate-crashed worldwide consciousness by scoring each the Portuguese champions’ targets of their 2-1 first leg victory at house to United within the final 16.

Even the upset Sir Alex Ferguson described his second purpose, a wonderfully positioned header, as “out of this world”. Few ought to have been shocked that McCarthy scored towards United. He had netted on all earlier seven events he’d performed an English workforce in his profession — together with for South Africa towards England in Durban in May 2003.

McCarthy’s transfer to United, which was confirmed on Saturday, could be traced again to May when Rob Moore, his agent, first spoke to Ten Hag.

At the very least, Moore thought McCarthy could be somebody for the United supervisor to look at, an up-and-coming coach. At the start of July, Ten Hag known as Moore and requested if McCarthy may go in for an interview at the membership’s Carrington coaching floor. That assembly went nicely.

McCarthy defined about being a coach in South Africa (he was named the South African Premier League’s coach of the yr in 2020-21 with Durban membership AmaZulu). Under him, 9 gamers who’d by no means performed for his or her nation earlier than receiving their worldwide call-ups.

He was a coach who had not solely been there and achieved it as a participant, however may enhance gamers.

United have had too many gamers who’ve gotten worse beneath varied managers lately.

Ten Hag requested McCarthy if he may come again and take some periods with under-23 gamers. He then went to Carrington within the week earlier than United flew to Bangkok to take a protracted session, damaged into 4 elements to point out his teaching capacity. Ten Hag advised the South African he was trying at different potential candidates and that he’d get again to him and inform him whether or not he was .

Several had an opportunity to impress him, however it was McCarthy who stood out most at Carrington. Since finishing his UEFA Pro Licence, he has been a supervisor and impressed sufficient to be supplied – and turned down – the South African nationwide workforce job final yr.


(Photo: Ash Donelon/Manchester United through Getty Images)

McCarthy, now 44, took drills; he’d achieved detailed analysis on all United’s strikers, he ran the periods and was watched fastidiously by Ten Hag and his assistants. United now have 4 coaches who’ve all managed at the highest stage of their respective nations.

While United had been nonetheless on that tour to Thailand and Australia, Ten Hag advised McCarthy he wanted him to affix United. He requested him to contact the membership to finalize the contract as quickly as attainable. The papers took a couple of days to attract up and had been signed on Friday, his first day at work. Not as soon as did he ask what his wage could be at the membership he is supported all his life.

The squad of gamers McCarthy is working with now may be very prone to see adjustments over the following month.

The way forward for Cristiano Ronaldo – who nonetheless desires to depart United – is but to be resolved. McCarthy had a optimistic relationship with him throughout Ronaldo’s first spell at United; he was taking part in 30 miles up the street with Blackburn and the pair would socialize.

He’s a buoyant character, daring, assured and able to go. Little fazes him. He was a young person when he walked into the Ajax dressing room as a 19-year-old in 1997 and was surrounded by gamers he had beforehand idolized, reminiscent of Jari Litmanen. He flourished.

McCarthy grew up supporting the good United sides. After he moved to Blackburn from Porto in 2006, he mentioned: “I’m an bold particular person and love the concept of ​​taking part in for one of many greatest groups, like United. I’m not saying that I need to go there as a result of I’m very proud of Blackburn, however I need to see myself at the highest taking part in for one of the best, I need to catch their eyes.

“It’s no good settling for what you will have, it’s important to have ambition. Without ambition gamers are nothing.”

He was bold as a participant then, and he’s as a coach now. He desires to help Ten Hag and his workers, he desires to assist get United’s misfiring strikers firing once more, utilizing his know-how from doing the job himself and likewise from what he is discovered as far as a coach.

“I’ve at all times handed on recommendation to gamers,” McCarthy mentioned. “I may see issues occurring earlier than they did on the pitch. I’ve studied the sport – and will help gamers make higher selections: when to play one-touch, two-touch or to precise themselves.”

When he was a supervisor, he was requested to explain himself.

“Animated, passionate and I really like my job,” he mentioned. “Just like I used to be on the pitch. I like making a distinction to the lives of gamers and enhancing them.

“Sometimes I’m too animated and get into bother, like fights with opposition managers and referees, however I’ll study to trim it down as I mature within the teaching trade. The ardour won’t ever go away, although.”

In 2019, he mentioned: “I’m bold, I’m watching former gamers like Guardiola and Pochettino, who I performed towards in Spain. I do not need to be removed from them.

“I do not see any black managers within the Premier League. I’m going to attempt and study and power myself into the Premier League once more. The captains of the enterprise are there. It’s a giant dream and no person goes to have the ability to crush it.”

His dream begins once more now, and Manchester United won’t be worse off for an injection of what Benny McCarthy has to supply.

(Top picture: Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

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