Relegated and on the verge of financial collapse, Fulham's condition was desperate, but in Ray Lewington, one of the stars of Macdonald's side and a player who had done his apprenticeship under the studious Dave Sexton at Chelsea, the supporters saw someone who they thought could lift morale.
His return from a 12-month stint with Sheffield United in the summer of 1986, moreover, raised hopes that the new owners, Marler Estates, were interested in helping to revive a demoralised club. Perhaps expectations were too high and too big a burden was placed on an inexperienced manager.
If going back is difficult, taking on a first managerial job adds to the problems, but, even taking these factors into account, nothing could have prepared Lewington for the baptism of fire that awaited him.
A merger proposal, another change of owners, a 0-10 defeat at Anfield and a flirtation with Division Four were all on the agenda in 1986-7. The club, and Lewington, came through it all but the hoped for improvement in League status never materialised.
A brief flourish, which ended in the play-offs in 1989, was as close as the club got, and within 12 months the Cottagers were fighting for their Third Division lives. Despite the poor record, Lewington himself remained personally popular.
He was a respected coach, transparently honest and very approachable, but he had few resources at his disposal and he seemed to lack the personal ruthlessness associated with the best managers. At times, he seemed openly to share the supporters' disappointments and insecurities but he had few remedies to offer.