Mike Phelan on the pitch at Old Trafford after United's Emirates FA Cup win over Reading

Phelan: This is a club that can inspire you

Saturday 11 May 2019 09:39

Mike Phelan was confirmed as Manchester United's permanent assistant manager on Friday morning, with the club announcing he had signed a three-year-deal.

The 56-year-old has been back at United since December, when he heeded Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s call for assistance and took a break from his role with Central Coast Mariners in Australia.
As a player, the Nelson-born midfielder made 146 appearances for the Reds between 1989 and 1994, and went on to play a significant role as a first-team coach and assistant manager during Sir Alex Ferguson’s regime.
Mike spoke to MUTV during the 2019 Player of the Year awards at Old Trafford, the night before his permanent deal was announced, and he was accompanied in the interview by former midfielder Darren Fletcher.
Scroll down to read what the pair had to say about the last few months, how the club can get back to the top and why United is ‘a magic roundabout’…
Mike Phelan was interviewed alongside Darren Fletcher during the Player of the Year awards.
It’s been a crazy few months hasn’t it? We spoke to you over in Dubai when you’d just rejoined the club and were helping Ole out. Whenever you hear Ole speak, he says how important that backroom staff is, and your team. The network behind him is so vital…
MP: “Yeah, it’s very important, the team alongside the team, really. That’s where success starts in my opinion. You’ve got to have a good group of people who support the players, and really that’s something that we’re trying to develop, we’re trying to work at. Ole’s doing his best at the moment to make sure that that structure’s in place. We’ve had our ups and down, from the early part when we came in to where we are right now, but it all bodes well for the future. It gives you a little insight into what’s required and where we need to go.”
From the start of this season, to where you are now, I guess you couldn’t have imagined you’d be here now…
MP: “No. In December, I was in Australia and I came back. I was doing some work out there for the Central Coast Mariners and I came back to enjoy Christmas, and then I got a phone call which invited me to come back to Manchester United, and it didn’t take long to agree to that! It’s been a rollercoaster to be quite honest, and I’m quite looking forward to a break, to be fair, to catch my breath!”
How excited are you to be starting next season from the beginning? Not coming in during December but actually being able to plan, to think ahead, and really make next season as you want it…
MP: “Yeah, well it’s an important time. We’ve looked at things, we’ve assessed things. We got off to an unbelievable start. The players responded magnificently, really, by going on that great run, and what really came out of that was the fact that they enjoyed that spell. It was something that they hadn’t experienced before. 
“We rode our luck along the way and yeah we’ve since hit a bit of a leveller, but it’s all about piecing things together and seeing where we can go, and it gives us an idea now of where we need to be and what we need to prepare for. We’re in a great position to be able to do that. We start from ground level and work our way up, as they say, so hopefully we can build on things.”
Emilano Alvarez, Michael Carrick, Mike Phelan and Kieran McKenna have offered great support to Ole.
Fletch, you’ve been in dressing rooms where one of the most vital components is people who know the club. Like Ole, Mike knows the club really well - he was here as a player and assistant manager for so many years. How important is that component in the United framework?
DF: “There are only so many clubs in the world who have a special DNA-type thing. There are less than a handful, and Manchester United is one of them. Mick knows that more than anybody, as you say, having been a massive part of Manchester United’s success with Alex Ferguson, and it’s important that the players are educated on that by people who know it, and can let them know what it means to be a Manchester United player. 
“The standards are different to any other club in the world; the expectancy is different to any other club in the world. And the players have to be educated on that, to not be afraid of it but to embrace it. People talk about the history of the club – we were always told to ‘embrace that, feel a part of it, don’t be intimidated by it, strive to be like these famous great players’. 
“It was an education, and I loved every minute of it. That’s what Mick’s talking about. The foundations have to be put in place to get us back to that level, and to get the players to realise how special it is to play for Manchester United, [to] want to be here. Learn about the history of the club, so that they’re a part of that history one day, of achieving fantastic things.”
Fletcher made 342 appearances during 12 years as a senior player at United.
MP: “I think you want to create history don’t you? It’s all about creating history. History’s here, it surrounds you. It’s all about: do you want to be part of the next stage of the history? I think it’s important. We’re here tonight, and good young players are earning awards. That’s the start of it. You want them to progress. You want them to be influential now, going forward. You want to add to that, and get the ingredients right, but it’s really a club that can inspire and take you to the next level, and we all know how good that feels. 
“Myself, I’ve been on that magic roundabout and it’s a tremendous feeling. Coming back, you want to do it again, and it will take a lot of hard work, a lot of endeavour, but you’ve got to enjoy the moment, haven’t you? It’s a simple fact. Come in, train every day, enjoy every day, play the game in front of how-many-thousand-people – not just in the stadium but around the place, around the world – who really want you to do well. So it’s all there. You’ve just got to turn up and perform.”
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