For the remainder of 1983-84, coach Ray Harford took over on a temporary basis and a run of five wins in six games led to his confirmation in the job.
He was virtually unknown when he joined the backroom staff in 1981 but, as the club progressed and a steady stream of talented youngsters made their mark in the side, Harford's talents became more widely appreciated and he was the natural choice to succeed Macdonald.
Despite his relative anonymity, he had been around for 20 years or more, although mostly in the lower divisions.
As a player, he had been a central defender with Charlton, Exeter, Lincoln, Mansfield, Port Vale and Colchester, making a total of over 350 League appearances between 1964 and 1975. It was at Layer Road that he started coaching in 1975 before his move to Fulham six years later.
It would have taken a very experienced and politically astute manager to succeed in the situation Harford inherited, but he was neither. His concern was the players, but the chairman was becoming even more unpredictable and desperate for cash. T
he ground was increasingly cut from under the manager as the best players were sold. Harford could not resist the chairman or speak out against what was happening. He was expected to turn promising youngsters into competent first teamers, a trick he pulled off in 1984-5 but could not repeat the next year.
As he was to show in his post-Fulham career (at Wimbledon, Luton, Blackburn, West Brom and now QPR), he was an exceptionally talented coach. In private he could also be very amusing and great company, but the other parts of the modern manager's job appealed to him less, especially the public relations side. The players knew how good he was, but he never really gave the supporters the chance to appreciate him.