Lou Macari

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Lou Macari
Personal information
Full nameLuigi Macari [1]
Date of birth (1949-06-07) 7 June 1949 (age 71) [2]
Place of birth Edinburgh, Scotland
Position(s) Midfielder
Youth career
1964–1965 Kilmarnock Amateurs
1965–1966 St Michael's Kilwinning
1966–1968 Celtic
Senior career*
1966–1973 Celtic 58 (26)
1973–1984 Manchester United 329 (78)
1984–1986 Swindon Town 36 (3)
National team
1972 Scotland U23 2 (0)
1972–1978 Scotland 24 (5)
Teams managed
1984–1989 Swindon Town
1989–1990 West Ham United
1991 Birmingham City
1991–1993 Stoke City
1993–1994 Celtic
1994–1997 Stoke City
2000–2002 Huddersfield Town
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Luigi "Lou" Macari (born 7 June 1949) is a Scottish former footballer and manager. He began his playing career at Celtic where he was one of the Quality Street Gang, the outstanding reserve team that emerged in the late 1960s that also included Kenny Dalglish and Danny McGrain. He is best known for his time at Manchester United, where he played over 400 games. He helped them win promotion back to the First Division and then played in their FA Cup win of 1977. He then finished his playing career at Swindon Town.


He was the manager of Swindon, West Ham United, Birmingham City, Stoke City (two spells), Celtic and Huddersfield Town. [3] [4]

Playing career


Lou Macari was the only child of Margaret and Albert; he was born in Edinburgh, and spent the first year of his life with his family in the village of Newtongrange, before the family moved to London. [5] His father was in the catering industry, and had represented the British Army at football. [6] The family moved to Largs in North Ayrshire when Macari was aged nine. [7] He was spotted playing for Ayrshire county by Celtic, and signed schoolboy forms for the club at the age of 16. [8] He turned professional at the club in 1968, on wages of £15 a week. [9]

He quickly became part of the renowned reserve side known as the Quality Street Gang that also included the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Danny McGrain and David Hay. [10] In August 1968, Celtic Reserves needed to defeat Partick Thistle Reserves by at least seven goals to win their Reserve League Cup section over Rangers Reserves. Celtic won 12-0, with Macari scoring four goals. [10] Macari scored 91 goals in two seasons for the reserves and in occasional first team games, [10] having broken through into the Celtic first team in 1970. [8] In 1971, he replaced Willie Wallace in the starting line up for the replay of the 1971 Scottish Cup Final, and scored for Celtic in a 2–1 win over Rangers. [11]

Manchester United

After a promising start to his playing career with Celtic, he moved south of the border in 1973 for £200,000 to sign for Manchester United, where he spent the bulk of his playing career. During his time with Celtic he had scored 57 goals in 100 appearances since making his first team debut in 1970. He won three League titles and two Scottish Cups in his time at Celtic. [12]

His first game for Manchester United came in January 1973 against West Ham United in which he scored a point-saving goal in a 2–2 draw. In 1977, his deflected shot off teammate Jimmy Greenhoff won Manchester United the FA Cup final against Liverpool (and ultimately denied Liverpool the European treble). He made 400 appearances for the club, scoring 98 goals.

Macari's early career at Old Trafford was spent trying to lead an attack that struggled to achieve anything. Relegation to the Second division in 1974 was the low point but Macari blossomed as a midfielder in the following seasons under Tommy Docherty, as United began to win back a large following with attacking football in which Macari enjoyed popularity alongside players such as Gordon Hill, Steve Coppell and the Greenhoff brothers.

He helped United win the Second Division title in 1975. They finished third on their return to the top flight and were runners-up in the FA Cup before going one better and lifting the trophy a year later. [8] He was on the losing side in the 1979 final against Arsenal, [8] and also played in a string of European campaigns during the late 1970s and early 1980s.


Macari won two Scotland Under 23 caps in early 1972, [13] before making his debut for the full Scottish national team in May 1972 against Wales. [14] He was a member of the Scotland squad for the 1978 World Cup tournament in Argentina. However, he attracted widespread criticism when it emerged that he had led complaints that the £20,000 bonuses the players would receive if they won the World Cup were too low, then made extra money by selling stories to the press [15] about the disarray and tensions within the Scottish camp. As it turned out, the Scotland team lost their first match to Peru, and drew with Iran. They beat the Netherlands 3–2 but this was insufficient to proceed in the tournament and the Scotland squad returned home without qualifying for the knock-out stage. Macari and his team-mates did not receive the bonuses which were the subject of contention. He won a total of 24 senior caps, scoring five international goals. [16]

Management career

After leaving Manchester United in 1984, he managed Swindon Town, West Ham United, Stoke City (twice), Celtic, Birmingham City and Huddersfield Town. As a manager Macari insisted upon a strict fitness regime, which included extra sessions in the players' free time and the banning of alcohol in and around the club. [17]

When I took my first management job at Swindon in the old Fourth Division, one of the things I had to adjust to was the fact I was working with players with lesser ability than at Old Trafford. There was a danger of demanding they play like top-flight footballers and then become frustrated with them when they couldn't. But I didn't see any reason why the players at Swindon couldn't be as fit as the players at Manchester United. That was something we worked really hard on, the players accepted it, and we reaped the rewards with promotion in my second season."

Macari recalls his Swindon days. [18]


His successes in management came with two promotions at Swindon Town (Fourth Division champions in 1986 and Third Division play-off winners in 1987). Harry Gregg, Swindon's assistant manager, did not like the style of play implemented by Macari. The divide between the Macari and Gregg became more noticeable, so the board chaired by Maurice Earle sacked both of them on Good Friday, 5 April 1985. Macari was then reinstated as manager on 10 April 1985 after a fan-led protest, [19] Swindon then went unbeaten for their next six games, winning, four, and Macari won the Manager of the Month award. [19] The following season, 1985–86 saw Macari collect four Manager of the Month awards as he led Swindon to the Division 4 title with a record-breaking 102-point tally. [19] A second consecutive promotion was achieved in 1987 with a play-off final victory over Gillingham at Selhurst Park. [19] In 1989, Macari was fined £1,000 by the Football Association after he bet on Swindon to lose an FA Cup tie against Newcastle. [19]

West Ham United

His achievements at Swindon earned Macari a move to West Ham United in 1989–90, becoming the first manager there never to have worked for the club in a previous capacity. [20] Macari was given the job on 3 July 1989. [21] He had a reputation for discipline and tried to change the training and dietary habits of the players. [22] This met with some disapproval within the playing ranks. [22] Macari bought in new recruits in future regular players, Luděk Mikloško, [23] Trevor Morley, [24] Martin Allen, [25] and Ian Bishop. [24] His team struggled to make much headway towards promotion and by the end of 1989 were in tenth place in The Second Division. They were also knocked out of the FA Cup by Torquay United on 6 January 1990 in the Third Round. Shortly after this it emerged that Macari was being investigated for betting irregularities whilst at his former club, Swindon Town. [19] He left on 18 February 1990. [20] [21]

Birmingham City

Macari was appointed as manager at Birmingham City in February 1991. He guided the Blues to a 3–2 victory over Tranmere Rovers in the 1991 Football League Trophy Final. [26]

Stoke City

On 18 June 1991 Macari was appointed manager at Stoke City. Stoke at the time had just finished in their lowest league position and Macari had the task to turn around the fortunes of the club. He brought in Steve Foley (£50,000 from Swindon Town), Vince Overson (£55,000 from Birmingham City), Ronnie Sinclair (£25,000 from Bristol City) and forward Mark Stein from Oxford United for what turned out to be a bargain £100,000. [3]

Stoke in 1991–92 were in the hunt for automatic promotion all season eventually having to settle for a play-off place where they came up against Stockport County. [3] The first leg at Edgeley Park saw County win 1–0 thanks to a free-kick from Lee Todd after Carl Beeston had been sent-off and in the second leg Stoke went behind in the first minute and despite Stein pulling one back Stoke went out 2–1 on aggregate. [3] Just days after losing to Stockport in the play-offs, they met again in the 1992 Football League Trophy Final where Stoke won 1–0. [26] The 1992–93 season saw Stoke win the Second Division title after amassing 93 points and also went on a club record unbeaten run of 25 games. [27]


In October 1993, Macari left Stoke City and returned to Scotland to manage Celtic. [3] Despite defeating Rangers 2–1 at Ibrox in his first match, his time at Celtic Park was unsuccessful. [28] [29] Macari made several moves in the transfer market - none of them particularly successful. Gerry Creaney, one of the few consistent goalscorers at Celtic at that time, was played out of position on the right-wing for several weeks before being sold to Portsmouth for £600,000. Striker Willie Falconer was signed from Sheffield United, right-back Lee Martin and goalkeeper Carl Muggleton came north from England, and in what is considered one of Macari's poorest moves, Andy Payton moved to Barnsley in a part-exchange deal for journeyman striker Wayne Biggins. A miserable 4–2 defeat by Rangers in the New Year fixture at Parkhead left Celtic languishing in the league. An early Scottish Cup exit in January 1994 at Motherwell sealed another dismal season for Celtic. [30] Fergus McCann took over as owner of Celtic in March 1994 and duly sacked Macari three months later. [28]

Return to Stoke City

Macari returned to Stoke in September 1994. Stoke finished in a mid-table position of 11th in 1994–95 before the partnership of Mike Sheron and Simon Sturridge in 1995–96 produced 29 goals and earned Stoke a place in the play-offs. [4] Stoke's opponents in the play-offs were Martin O'Neill's Leicester City whom Stoke had already beaten twice in the league. [4] The first leg at Filbert Street ended 0–0. [4] In the second leg, Stoke produced a poor performance and Leicester scored the only goal, Garry Parker's left-foot volley ended Stoke's hopes of promotion. [4] The 1996–97 campaign saw Stoke play their final season at the Victoria Ground which ended with a mid-table finish of 12th. Macari announced he was leaving at the end of the season which was a surprise but he was 'stripped of his duties' before he left and later launched a lawsuit against Peter Coates for wrongful dismissal. [4]

Huddersfield Town

Macari returned to management in 2000 with Huddersfield Town who were in relegation trouble after a poor start to the season. He could not prevent them from being relegated from Division One at the end of the 2000–01 campaign. Macari managed to steady the ship in 2001–02 and lead the club into the Second Division play-offs as the Terriers looked to bounce straight back up. However they were defeated by Brentford in the semi finals. Macari's contract was not renewed for the next season with Huddersfield's board stating his defensive style of football as the reason. This was to be Macari's last managerial role and despite being linked with various positions since has not ventured back into management.


Macari currently lives in Stoke-on-Trent and works as a pundit for MUTV on several shows. He is a regular guest on Match Day Live before Manchester United home and away games. As well as phone-in shows such as Wednesday Night Phone-in he occasionally does punditry for Sky Sports, and also writes regular comment pieces for the Stoke-on-Trent newspaper The Sentinel . He has given several guest talks at Staffordshire University on the Sports Journalism courses. Macari also owns the "Lou Macari Chip Shop" on Chester Road, near Old Trafford. He wrote his autobiography in October 2009 called Football, My Life.

Macari was portrayed by Scottish actor Tony Curran in the 2014 television film Marvellous , based on the life of former Stoke City kitman Neil Baldwin. [31]

Personal life

His mother died just before the 1978 World Cup in strange circumstances, overdosing on tablets, her son was to find out. "My mum had been on her own, and in the conversation I'd had with her she said she had some friends up there. Putting the pieces together after she died, I just wasn't convinced that the friends were good friends. Some money had gone missing." [32]

His sons Michael and Paul have played professionally with Stoke, when Macari was manager of the club. His youngest son Jonathan died by suicide in 1999 after being released from his contract at Nottingham Forest. [33] Family friend and former manager Dave Bassett said that Jonathan could not handle the pressure of living up to his father's greatness. There was also talk of drugs affecting his son's life and leading to his suicide, [34] but Macari later discounted that theory, admitting that much like the death of his mother, the complete story behind the tragedy may never be known. [32] Years later he claimed that "money in a young man's pocket is a recipe for disaster and we had that disaster. Only when you go through something like that do you understand the hell of it." [35]

Macari worked with Stoke-on-Trent council to set up The Macari Centre, a street retreat to house the homeless sleeping rough, which opened in February 2016. [36] [37] In the COVID-19 pandemic, following the closure of the crowded premises of The Macari Centre, Macari rented a warehouse and filled it with glamping pods for homeless people, giving them socially distanced places of their own and their own individual addresses. [38]

Career statistics

As a player


Source: [39]

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
ClubSeasonLeague FA Cup League Cup Europe Other [A] Total
Celtic 1967–68 Scottish Division One 000010000010
1968–69 Scottish Division One110030000041
1969–70 Scottish Division One157220000211910
1970–71 Scottish Division One115118512002113
1971–72 Scottish Division One2010556584314225
1972–73 Scottish Division One11300643230239
Manchester United 1972–73 First Division 16500000030195
1973–74 First Division35521100000386
1974–75 Second Division 3811207700004718
1975–76 First Division3612613200004515
1976–77 First Division389734141005314
1977–78 First Division328431020104011
1978–79 First Division32650100000386
1979–80 First Division39920300000449
1980–81 First Division38920201000439
1981–82 First Division11220000000132
1982–83 First Division9210301000142
1983–84 First Division5010202000100
Swindon Town 1984–85 Fourth Division 27310100021314
1985–86 Fourth Division9000300000120
Career total42310743165524229143557159
A.  ^ The "Other" column constitutes appearances and goals in the Anglo-Italian Cup, Drybrough Cup, FA Charity Shield, Football League Trophy and Glasgow Cup.


Appearances and goals by national team and year
National teamYearAppsGoals
Scotland [40] 197263

As a manager

Source: [39]

Managerial record by team and tenure
Swindon Town 23 July 19843 July 19892851386780048.4
West Ham United 3 July 198918 February 199040151213037.5
Birmingham City 7 February 199118 June 1991241266050.0
Stoke City 18 June 199126 October 1993138693831050.0
Celtic [41] 27 October 199314 June 19943412148035.3
Stoke City29 September 19941 July 1997151554749036.4
Huddersfield Town 16 October 200014 June 200293362928038.7


As a player

Manchester United

*Shared with Liverpool

As a manager

Swindon Town
Birmingham City
Stoke City

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  6. Macari 2008 , p. 8
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  44. "1983 Charity Shield line-up". MUFC Info. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
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