Manchester United fans have a cup final to look forward to against Newcastle United post a mid-week Europa league second leg knock-out tie versus Barcelona, as the Red Devils march on ahead in their quest to compete on multiple fronts.
The 20-time English champions spanked Leicester City 3-0 at Old Trafford last weekend, consolidating their position in the title race with a commanding second-half performance that saw them completely blow the visitors out of the water.
As the chants rang out at the Theatre of Dreams, sounds of “Ohhh Benni McCarthy” could be heard over the Stretford End after the final whistle had been blown.
It was an acknowledgement from the United fans of a particularly popular member of Erik ten Hag’s staff who has been making waves in the football world lately due to his rumored influence on Manchester United’s star forwards, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho.
McCarthy, the former South African international, joined Manchester United as a first-team coach on 30 July 2022, after a elaborate audition process that involved him taking multiple training sessions with United’s U-23s at Carrington, which were carefully observed by Ten Hag and the rest of his staff.
The club had been in the hunt to add a specialist coach for their forward-line and were linked with former United old boy, Robin van Persie in the summer but the move never materialised.
It is at that point that McCarthy’s agent approached Ten Hag and the United’s Director of football, John Murtough, hoping to secure a move for his client.
He stressed that McCarthy’s stint as a player at Ajax between 1999 and 2003 lent him a unique perspective on Ten Hag’s ‘Total Football’ based coaching philosophy, whilst also insisting on his excellent track record of improving players.
Marcus Rashford, in particular, has grown immensely as a player under the tutelage of McCarthy, having scored more headed goals in the Premier League (3), than any other season in his Manchester United career.
A clip of McCarthy giving Rashford individual heading drills went viral last year, and it is evident that his coaching methods are having a positive impact on the players.
Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial are also said to be responding well to McCarthy’s mentorship, and the Daily Mail now reports that Sancho further insisted on one-on-one training sessions with the former Blackburn Rovers striker after his return from an extended hiatus over the New Year.
McCarthy once netted two goals as a Jose Mourinho-led Porto side controversially knocked the Red Devils out on the way to the UEFA Champions league trophy in 2004, but he is now firmly in the good graces of the United fans, and an established member of the first team coaching staff.
United will hope they can hold on to South Africa’s all time leading goalscorer for the foreseeable future as Erik ten Hag looks to assert his authority in the Premier League in the coming seasons.