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Benni McCarthy will become a better tactician and professional working under Manchester United’s Erik ten Hag

Benni McCarthy can can become a better coach in his new role at Manchester United. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

Benni McCarthy can can become a better coach in his new role at Manchester United. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

Published Jul 31, 2022

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Durban - On paper, it might seem like Benni McCarthy is taking a step back in his managerial career by taking on a role within the new technical team of Manchester United under Erik Ten Hag.

The Bafana Bafana all-time top scorer most recently managed AmaZulu in the South African top-flight and prior to that Cape Town City. Both of his stints in South Africa showed strong potential.

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With Cape Town City, McCarthy famously won the MTN 8 three years ago. During his time with AmaZulu, he led South Africa’s oldest professional football club to an all-time high league finish of second in the 2020/21 season. At the height of McCarthy’s time with AmaZulu, some suggested that he should look to forge his coaching career in Europe and join the likes of Pitso Mosimane and Bradley Carnall by coaching outside the borders of South Africa.

By finishing as runners-up two seasons ago under McCarthy, Usuthu also qualified for the CAF Champions League for the first time in their history. Armed with a UEFA pro licence and a good reputation which extends to Europe, McCarthy does have the profile to coach internationally.

However, while the 44-year-old showed promise as an up and coming tactician, he also showed several flaws. For one, his conduct in front of reporters could sometimes be a bit too casual and possibly embarrassing to his former club owners. Whilst South Africans may see the funny side of such instances and brush it off as a joke, it may not be as well received internationally, especially in high profile leagues where every word uttered by coaches is heavily scrutinized.

McCarthy also clearly struggled to revive teams while players lost momentum and that was clearly something seen with AmaZulu last season. After he led AmaZulu to a second place finish two seasons ago, the club looked destined to finish outside the top eight last season before a late season revival under Brandon Truter inspired a recovery.

By working within the United technical team, McCarthy will get to boost his own tactical skills and sense of professionalism in an environment far more strict and demanding than what he would have experienced in South Africa. New United head coach Ten Hag is known to be a strict disciplinarian and mentor behind the scenes, so much so that he will be implementing fines for United players who are badly behaved or who arrive late for training during the upcoming season.

McCarthy will also face his strongest challenge yet. He will have to revive a United frontline which bar Cristiano Ronaldo misfired in front of goal last season. Reviving the performances of the likes of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford could be a tougher challenge for McCarthy than what he faced at AmaZulu and Cape Town City though it will ultimately make him a better technically minded coach and mentor in his own right.

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