Smith returns to assist Ferguson

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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson has revived an old partnership with Walter Smith - and hopes to revive Manchester United's title chances - by today appointing the former Rangers and Everton manager as his assistant until the end of the season.

The pair worked together when Ferguson was the Scotland manager in the 1986 World Cup and Smith was his No 2. The appointment means Ferguson will have a close ally at United for the next three months - someone he can rely on for support at a time when he is under pressure. Ferguson had been in no hurry to replace Carlos Queiroz, who left last summer to take over at Real Madrid, so Smith's arrival is an indication of his desire to have a man he can rely on in a crisis.

"I am delighted that Walter has accepted the chance to join United," Ferguson said. "There are few people in the game with his experience, knowledge and technical ability. His talent and background will be major assets at such a critical time of the season."

Smith achieved tremendous success at Rangers, winning the Scottish Premier League title six times, plus three Scottish Cups and three Scottish League Cups. He said: "The chance to come to Manchester United is something I couldn't turn down. There are few bigger challenges in football than helping a successful side sustain their achievements. I have huge admiration for what Sir Alex has achieved at United and I'm excited to be part of it."

Smith was less successful at Everton where he was hampered by a lack of money for transfers and he was eventually dismissed in March 2002 after four years in charge.

Ferguson tried to appoint Smith as his assistant at Aberdeen in 1978, but Jim McLean refused to release him from the same post at Dundee United. After the 1986 World Cup, Smith joined Rangers as Graeme Souness's assistant. He took over the first team himself in 1991, leading to a period of dominance by Rangers in Scotland. Smith was awarded an OBE in 1997.