The former Scottish international had started his managerial career as a player-manager for Chelsea in 1961 and moved to a number of different clubs, including Rotherham United (1967-68), Queens Park Rangers (1968), Aston Villa (1968-70) and FC Porto (1970-71) before taking the Scotland job in 1971.
When Old Trafford came calling in 1972, Docherty took charge of a United side that was slipping down the Division One table and sitting in 17th place after a 1-3 Boxing Day loss away to Derby County. Although his first match in charge was a 1-3 loss to Arsenal at Highbury, Docherty successfully kept the club above the relegation zone, finishing the season in 18th position.
He was less fortunate the next season. Following the retirement of Bobby Charlton, the transfer of Denis Law, and the implosion of George Best, United were relegated to Division Two for the 1974-75 season, but returned to the top flight at the first opportunity.
After winning the FA Cup in 1977, news broke that summer that Docherty was having an affair with Mary Brown, wife of club physiotherapist Laurie Brown, and he was sacked in July. He and Mary eventually wed and had two children. After spells with a number of clubs, he retired in 1988.