Dwight Yorke exclusive: Former Man United star on taking his first job in management

Striker is leaving Dubai for Australia and taking charge of A-League side Macarthur FC

Manchester United's Dwight Yorke celebrates his first goal with teammate David Beckham  (Photo by Neal Simpson/EMPICS via Getty Images)
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Former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke, has been appointed the new coach of Australian A-League side Macarthur FC, based near Sydney. Yorke, 50, who also had a spell playing in Australia, will be leaving his home in Dubai after signing a two-year deal for his first job in management. The National spoke to the former Trinidad and Tobago international.

Why are you doing this?

Playing is the best part of football, being a manager can be the second best part. That’s if I can transfer what I've learnt and get players to understand the application and dedication they need to get to the top.

I didn’t just decide to be a manager either, I’ve always been interested. It’s not my fault the opportunities haven’t been there. That makes me even more determined. I’m driven by the thought of failure, but this is a good opportunity.

You had a nice life, living in Dubai and travelling the world in your ambassadorial role at Man United. It’s a lot to give up

Dubai, United Arab Emirates-April,22, 2015:  Dwight Yorke plays a shot during the Icons Cup between the United States team and Rest of the World  at the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Clubin Dubai  . ( Satish Kumar / The National ) For Sports / Story by John McAuley *** Local Caption ***  SK-Golf-23042015-02.jpg

People close to me think I’m crazy to leave this and go into a pressure scenario as a manager, where you have to deliver despite not having full control. You have to rely on others, on instinct and knowledge. As a player you can inflict that on others directly and get a result.

But there’s a burning desire and I'm very passionate to do this. I probably don't express that enough to people and I think people saw me as that fun guy who played the game who got to the very top and was successful, but they don't see the other side of my work ethic and what I can bring to a team.

I’ve always been a person within a dressing room that moulds a team together. I don’t take all the credit for any success, but if you followed my journey as a player I have been relatively successful everywhere – including in Australia. I feel that I bring a calming influence as well as an experienced head for management.

How did the move to Macarthur come about?

The sun sets during the A-League match between Macarthur FC and Western Sydney Wanderers on May 8, 2022. Getty

I went to Australia to launch Manchester United’s pre-season recently. I did the press conference as I’ve been representing the club in an ambassadorial role.

After that, the conversation quickly shifted with people telling me ‘we know you've done your pro licence and have aspirations to coach’. They knew I was serious.

Within a few days, I also had a call from Danny Townsend who is the MD for the A League in Australia. He asked me if I was interested in taking the All Star A-League team against Barcelona’s full team (on May 25), which I was. So my first game as manager will be against Barcelona! Then it will move to club football.

What are the aims for your new club?

I’ve been talking to the owners and the CEO. They have high ambitions in terms of winning the A-League and having Macarthur becoming a recognised team. It’s a new club with high expectations and anybody who knows me knows that matches my ambitions. There will be no honeymoon period, I never had one as a player either.

The club is based near Sydney, a city you’ve lived in before as a player.

It’s a great part of the word and I have a good affiliation with many people there. It will be my first management job, a step into the unknown, but I’ve prepared myself for it.

You never know until you get in and see the issues you have to face on a daily basis, but I’m excited and confident. The A-League is good one. I hope it’s the right place for me to start as a manager.

Did it frustrate you how long it took to get a job?

14 Apr 2001:  Manchester United goal scorer Dwight Yorke is congratulated by team mate Roy Keane during the FA Carling Premiership match against Coventry City at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. United won 4-2. \ Mandatory Credit: Clive Brunskill /Allsport / Getty Images

Yes. I wondered why other players got opportunities to go straight into management and I didn’t, but I also felt prepared when I wasn’t. A pro-licence helps you get properly prepared. I’ve reflected a lot, I’m in a good place, I’ve spent a lot of time to get to this point.

When I finished football I did plenty of media work and can see what it is like from both sides, but I don’t just want to talk about football, I want to be involved in it.

Man United were impressed when you came in to coach as part of your pro-licence.

They have been great. Letting me work there at Carrington as I did my badges. Neil Wood, who coaches the 23s, was first class, Richard Arnold too. They were so supportive and the door is always open for me to go to Carrington.

You worked with younger players as part of your badges. Anthony Elanga said of you: 'He tells me to get in the box – he calls it zone one and says that 92% of goals happen there.'

Anthony Elanga in action for Manchester United. Getty

Anthony was determined to be at the top with a good work ethic. He listened well, he was focused and wanted to improve each day. And we all know he’s fast and has abilities that you can’t coach, but he’s still in a development stage.

I liked what I saw, I like it when he goes behind players, but I’d also like him to be a little more positive when he takes players on. That and his finishing are two areas which he can improve on.

My experience can be useful for young players like I hope it was for Anthony. They will see a man who is outgoing but also determined. I made mistakes along the way, I’ve been in some dark places and also been successful.

I understand what it’s like to be a professional footballer, with all your hopes and aspirations. My route from the Caribbean was a difficult one and not a normal one, but I can help young players.

Do you have a philosophy as a manager? What type of football will your teams play?

I’ve never heard a manager say: ‘I play defensive, negative football'. Fans aren’t going to pay to see that. All you hear is 'attacking. Front foot. Entertaining'. Let’s be realistic. I have to work with the players that I have.

We need to be wise and understand that we can try to attack because we want to win, but I can’t ask players to do things that they can’t do. We need a functional side based on their capabilities.

You’ve been working with Fifa as an observer with Arsene Wenger and Steve McClaren

14  Oct 2000:  Sir Alex Ferguson and Steve McClaren of Manchester United watch as their team beat Leicester City 3-0 during the Leicester City v Manchester United FA Carling Premiership match at Filbert Street, Leicester. Mandatory Credit: Ross Kinnaird/ALLSPORT

That’s been a good experience, with access to world class managers. Football has moved on since I played, the styles are different. Goalkeepers don’t do big kicks out now. Tactics are different.

With Arsene and Steve, I always picked their brains and asked them management questions. I want as much of their knowledge as possible, what is expected. I saw what I saw as a player, but they have also been managers. I spoke to Sir Alex Ferguson and Gareth Southgate too. I want to know that I’m on the right path with my thinking.

I speak a lot with Steve McClaren and he tried to talk me out of trying to become a manager. He keeps saying: ‘Why? Why? Why?’ So I get different answers, some that I like and some that I know already. But they have managed and I have not. I make notes from what they tell me, but one of the most important things they tell me is that I have to be myself and believe in what I’m doing.

McClaren might be going back to Manchester United with Erik Ten Hag. What sort of qualities would he give?

As a coach, he was refreshing, like a kid on the training field full of enthusiasm and ideas. He was very vocal. He knows what Manchester United is, but it’s a very, very different club to the one I left, I’ve seen that with my own eyes. There’s a big recovery needed.

It would be good for Ten Hag to have Steve’s experience and they have worked together before, but equally United’s new manager has to be his own person. I’ll be my own person too, just as I always have been. No dramas.

Updated: May 17, 2022, 8:01 AM