Tommy Docherty was Man Utd's firebrand boss who won promotion

Tributes have been paid to Tommy Docherty, the firebrand former Manchester United, Chelsea and Scotland boss, who has died at the age of 92.

Outspoken and uncompromising, Docherty was a unique character, never short of an opinion, a wisecrack or words of wisdom from his storied life in football.

Docherty made more than 300 appearances for Preston North End and won 25 caps for Scotland, representing his country in two World Cups.

But he is best remembered for his nomadic managerial career, which saw him take charge of more than a dozen clubs, including United, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Porto, Derby and QPR, as well as a stint with Scotland.

Docherty spent four-and-a-half years in charge of United, taking them straight back up to the First Division in 1975, following their relegation from the top-flight in 1974.

Tributes have been paid to Tommy Docherty

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Glasgow-born Docherty also took United to successive FA Cup finals in 1976 and 1977, lifting the trophy in the latter year to deny arch rivals Liverpool an historic Treble haul.

United played with a swagger under Docherty, who restored the club’s attacking heritage made famous under Sir Matt Busby, reconnecting fans with the club following their shock relegation.

But his time in charge of United came to an abrupt end two months after the 1977 FA Cup win, when he was sacked after embarking on an extra-marital affair with the wife of club physio Laurie Brown.

Docherty would famously remark he was “the only to be sacked for falling in love”, as he went on to marry wife Mary, with whom he had two daughters and remained with until his death.

He was never able to get over the controversial manner of his exit from United, which destroyed his relationship with the club he still regarded as the biggest in the world.

Docherty with another Man United icon, Matt Busby

Docherty once asked for tickets to a United game and received them, along with an invoice for the cost. He never took the tickets, angered by United’s parsimony and lack of loyalty to a former manager.

In contrast, every Christmas he would receive a card and a hamper from Chelsea, despite having left them more than four decades earlier.

After serving in the Army, Docherty joined Celtic then moved to Preston aged 21, where he would spend the bulk of his playing days.

Playing alongside Tom Finney, he helped Preston to promotion to the top flight in 1951, where they twice finished as runners-up in the old First Division, as well as reaching the FA Cup final in 1954.

His playing career took in spells at Arsenal and Chelsea, the latter where he began his managerial career in 1961, spending six years in charge at Stamford Bridge.

Docherty with his Scottish players at Manchester United

From there, his itinerant managerial career began, taking in spells at Rotherham, QPR, Villa, Porto and Scotland, before arriving at Old Trafford in 1972.

Docherty set about revamping United, jettisoning legends like Sir Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and George Best, to build a new team centred around younger players including Sammy McIlroy, Brian Greenhoff, Gordon Hill and Steve Coppell.

After United, he took charge of Derby, returned for a brief spell at QPR, before short-lived stints at clubs, before retiring in 1988 after one season in charge of Altrincham Town in 1988.

After the end of his managerial career, Docherty carved out a successful career on the after-dinner speaking circuit and would often appear on TV to offer his forthright opinions.

He died at his home in Marple yesterday after a short illness. A family spokesperson said: “Tommy passed away peacefully surrounded by his family at home.

“He was a much-loved husband, father and papa and will be terribly missed. We ask that our privacy be respected at this time.”

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