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Queiroz to be first foreign coach at Old Trafford

Manchester United yesterday appointed their first foreign coach to become Sir Alex Ferguson's No 2, although the much-travelled Carlos Queiroz is still long-odds to make the step up to become Old Trafford's manager.

Queiroz, born in Mozambique and whose last job was coaching South Africa, will finally bridge the gap left by the departure of Steve McClaren for Middlesbrough last year.

"He is someone I have been looking at for quite a while," Ferguson explained. "I know he has an excellent track record in the past as a manager, particularly with Portugal and South Africa, and he is known as an innovative coach. I feel he is someone who could come in and challenge the players."

Queiroz meets few of the criteria laid down when the club made their abortive search for Ferguson's replacement last season. In short, he has not managed a major European club to any kind of success.

However, despite never having played the game professionally, he is highly regarded as a coach by Fifa and speaks excellent English. Those who know him feel the dapper 49-year-old would not consider himself out of the running to step up to the manager's role.

Ferguson's description of Queiroz's track record would not be wholeheartedly endorsed in either Lisbon or Johannesburg, where they remember some abrasive man-management, nor in the United Arab Emirates – he was sacked after losing 1-0 to Palestine.

His will always be chiefly known for producing Portugal's "golden generation" of Luis Figo, João Pinto and Rui Costa, leading them to World Youth Cups in 1989 and 1991.

Under him, however, the national side never threatened to match those heights and, after failing to take them to the 1994 World Cup, he earned Bobby Robson's enmity by replacing him as coach of Sporting Lisbon when they were then top of the Portuguese League.

Queiroz guided South Africa to Japan and Korea but his relationship with his employers fell apart during the African Nations Cup, where they won just once as divisions within the squad boiled to the surface.

A split with his technical director, Jono Somo, went unhealed and, when Somo was given joint responsibility for team selection, Queiroz resigned with a £60,000 pay-off.

He had been expected to return to Portugal, either to coach Benfica or to become tournament director for the 2004 European Championship. Instead, he has opted for perhaps the most fascinating view in football – next to Ferguson.