18/02/2012 07:59, Report by Adam Marshall
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Phelan: I'm the middle man

Assistant manager Mike Phelan talks about his work with the boss and players... 

In terms of your role, how do you assist Sir Alex?
You back up a lot of things and put things in place, becoming a buffer between the players and the manager. You also become a little bit of a sounding board for the manager at times and also for the rest of the staff. We have to communicate things with each other and get the message across. We make plans and, as an assistant, you do exactly what the word says and assist in every department and, hopefully, try and make things run as smoothly as you can.

Has your role changed over the years. Do you take more training?
I think the role has developed. Years ago, the assistant manager did do a bit more on the training ground. Certainly, when I was coaching out there on the training ground I was doing a lot of work out there but now we have different people to do different things. Rene [Meuelensteen] does quite a bit of the coaching and there's myself, who is hanging around with the manager to discuss coaching, the games and individual players. My role now is being in between everything. Sometimes that can be good and sometimes it can be frustrating as you want to do a bit more if you possibly can but it's important to be a good listener if you're an assistant manager.

Has the manager mellowed at all as some of the players suggest?
He has mellowed out, definitely. What the manager has created is a good working environment for people like myself and other members of staff to do their job. I think he's still in control of everything, still has the final word on everything but now has more of an oversee of everything that's going on and makes the major decisions. That's really important.

Do you have to treat each player differently?
I think you do. The modern player has now become quite open to situations where you have to think about them first. You need to give them an ear when they need to talk to you individually. You need

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Premier League