Former Preston North End wing-half and Manchester United manager Frank O'Farrell has passed away

Former Preston North End wing-half Frank O'Farrell who went on to be Manchester United manager, has died at the age of 94.

By Dave Seddon
Monday, 7th March 2022, 5:10 pm

Cork-born O’Farrell made 128 league and cup appearances for the Lilywhites between December 1956 and April 1961.

After leaving Deepdale he cut his managerial teeth with non-league Weymouth, and went on to manage Leicester City and Manchester United.

He succeeded Sir Matt Busby at United but lasted just 18 months in the Old Trafford job.

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Frank O'Farrell at Deepdale when attending the PNE Former Players' dinner

O’Farrell started his career with home-town club Cork City, playing part-time while working on the railways.

A £3,000 transfer fee took him to West Ham United in 1948. He was to make 197 league appearances for the Hammers and 213 in total, scoring eight goals.

North End signed O’Farrell in November, Eddie Lewis going to West Ham in a swap deal.

O’Farrell scored on his Preston debut, a 3-1 win over Manchester City at Deepdale.

Frank O'Farrell during his time as Manchester United manager

PNE were unbeaten in the Irishman’s first 15 matches, that including a run to the fifth round of the FA Cup – his first defeat was in a replay against Arsenal at Highbury, watched by a crowd of more than 61,000.

They finished third in the First Division that season, behind champions United and runners-up Tottenham.

O’Farrell made 40 league appearances in the 1957/58 campaign as PNE finished second behind Wolves.

His impressive form continued the next season which saw a 12th place finish, while O’Farrell was restricted to 10 games in the 1959/60 campaign – the season when Sir Tom Finney retired.

O’Farrell’s last season at Deepdale was when they were relegated from the First Division in April 1961.

He retired from league football in the summer of 1961 and became player/manager at Weymouth.

In his first season in charge of Weymouth, he guided them to the fourth round of the FA Cup where they were drawn to face North End at Deepdale – PNE won 2-0.

O’Farrell guided Weymouth to the Southern League title in 1964/65 and his work there saw Torquay United tempt him to move to Devon, with him guiding them to promotion in his first season.

In December 1968 he landed the Leicester job and while he couldn’t prevent them being relegated that season, the Foxes reached the FA Cup final where they lost to Manchester City.

Leicester returned to the top flight as second division champions in 1971 and O'Farrell was quickly appointed as Busby's successor.

After a promising start which saw United top the table for the first time in three years, O'Farrell fell out with star player George Best and the Red Devils ended the season in eighth.

O'Farrell was sacked in December 1972 with United third-from-bottom of Division One.

He would later manager Cardiff, the Iran national team and United Arab Emirates club Al-Shaab, as well having two further spells in charge of Torquay.

O’Farrell attended the PNE Former Players Association’s annual dinner on several occasions.