It was confirmed this afternoon that Mark Dempsey has joined Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s coaching staff at Manchester United.
Dempsey is from Crumpsall and started his football career in United’s academy, signing on as a trainee as a 16-year-old then getting his first professional deal two years later. He made his debut for the club in 1983 in the Cup Winners Cup against Spartak Varna, before making his second and final appearance for the first team against Ipswich Town.
He was sold to Sheffield United and went on to play for Rotherham United and Macclesfield Town. He retired from playing when he was just 30 and returned to United in 1999 where he coached the youngsters.
“When I walked up the stairs at Carrington, Ferguson waited for me as a new member of the team,” Dempsey said. “How good is that? He welcomed me to the club and said ‘they told me that you were fucking good player’.”
Dempsey revealed that the most important thing he learned from Sir Alex Ferguson was to have high standards.
“Standards. On and off the pitch,” he said. “That you should always work harder than your opponent. Always. In Manchester United we never talked about whether we were better or worse than the others. Only if we worked more than the rest.”
Dempsey stayed at United until 2009 when he left the club for a position coaching the youth at Norwegian side Tromso Idrettslag.
The following year he was reunited with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer when our current manager left our Reserve Team to manage Molde. Together they won back to back league titles (the first title wins in the club’s history) and the Norwegian Football Cup.
Solskjaer was offered the Cardiff job in January 2014 and Dempsey was the first person he called to invite him to join him in Wales.
“Mark is my Assistant Manager here at Cardiff City,” Solskjaer said at the time. “We met at Manchester United during the time that Mark was working with the Club’s Under 16s. We became close friends during that time and I very often went to watch his sessions towards the latter part of my playing career as I began to think about taking steps into coaching. Mark eventually left Old Trafford and by coincidence, headed to Norway where he went to work with the first-team at Tromso IL. Then, when I ended my time as United Reserve Team Manager and took the job at Molde FK, Mark was my first call. I was very pleased that he decided to join me at that time and we went on to enjoy three very successful years in the Tippeligaen. We know each other very well and how we both like to work. If I’m half-way through a sentence he will very often finish it for me and vice-versa, so we know exactly where each other are coming from!”
However, this job only lasted a few months with the Solskjaer getting sacked in the September after being appointed in the January.
Dempsey then returned to Norway to take on the position of manager at Haugesund. He was asked here whether he had any plans to work with Solskjaer again in the future. “Yes, I really hope so,” he replied. “He may well work under me!”
A few months later, Dempsey left Norway to manage Swedish side Djurgarden. From here, he returned to Molde as the assistant manager. He was then offered the manager’s job at another Norwegian club, IK Start, which he took but was soon sacked for poor results. Last summer, he was appointed as the manager of Kongsvinger IL, a club in Norway’s second tier, but left that job to return to United.
Clearly, he hasn’t had great success as a manager but Solskjaer rates his work as a coach. Along with Mike Phelan, it is clear that United are keen to reintroduce Ferguson’s model for success at the club.
Welcome back, Mark.