South Africa’s Benni McCarthy joins Erik ten Hag’s backroom staff, to coach Man United’s strikers

South Africa’s Benni McCarthy joins Erik ten Hag’s backroom staff, to coach Man United’s strikers


Manchester United have strengthened Erik ten Hag’s backroom staff by bringing in former South Africa striker Benni McCarthy as a first-team coach. McCarthy has been in talks with United about taking up a role at Old Trafford all week – and his appointment has now been confirmed by the club.

The much-travelled 44-year-old stepped down as coach of Durban-based AmaZulu in March after helping them qualify for the CAF Champions League. McCarthy is a boyhood United fan who once scored two goals that famously helped Jose Mourinho ’s Porto dump Sir Alex Ferguson out of the Champions League in 2004.

He is a close friend of Ten Hag’s assistant Mitchell van der Gaag and will form part of a backroom team that also includes former England boss Steve McClaren, with the South African focusing on work with United’s forwards.

McCarthy will bring a wealth of top-level experience that includes a six-year spell in the Premier League with Blackburn and West Ham. He also has an Ajax background after joining the Dutch club in 1997 and helping them win the Eredivisie title and two domestic cups.

McCarthy then spent four years in Spain with Celta Vigo before moving to Portugal with Porto – where he became a key part of Mourinho’s all-conquering side. The Cape Town-born striker scored twice in the 2-1 Champions League victory over United in the Estadio do Dragao.

The win set-up a memorable Old Trafford showdown that ended with Mourinho dancing along the touchline in celebration after his team had knocked the Reds out thanks to a last-minute equaliser by Costinha after McCarthy’s free-kick had been fumbled by keeper Tim Howard.

McCarthy recalled, “I support Man United and always wanted to play for them. I loved players like Mark Hughes, Andy Cole and Ryan Giggs. So, I was heartbroken to score twice. My dream was to score once at Old Trafford – not to knock United out.”

McCarthy who made jersey No.17 popular during his time with the South African national team Bafana Bafana recalls how he was roasted by Mourinho when he did not celebrate for scoring against Manchester United.

He says, “I got hammered by Jose Mourinho after the game because I wasn’t very happy. He told me that if I didn’t cheer up, I’d never play in his team again.”

Porto went on to win the Champions League and the Portuguese title that season – and Mourinho departed to Chelsea.

  • A Tell / Mirror report
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