United Briefing: What 'United's culture' means to Mike
What are the values and ideas behind Manchester United's culture and DNA?
It's a good question, and one that current assistant manager Mike Phelan is uniquely positioned to answer.
The 58-year-old was a player at Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson from 1989 to 1994, as we embarked on an extraordinary period of success, before returning to the club at the beginning of the following decade as a coach.
Phelan was at Sir Alex's side as the Reds re-established ourselves at the top of the Premier League tree, and then the European game, and, after leaving when the great man retired, is now back at United as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sets about his current project.
But just what does that entail? First and foremost, it's about working hard towards a common goal. If everyone does that, anything can be achieved, says Phelan, speaking on the latest episode of UTD Podcast, but it's not necessarily an easy road...
“The culture side of things is about the work ethic, the demands and the hours you have to put in,” Phelan told us. “Sometimes they are hard and long, but they are normal hours.
“You have to put the time in and you have got to think about what it really means, what does it matter to people that Manchester United are winning, playing well and achieving something.
“Most of all, you want to go on that journey again. Anything can happen at Manchester United, anything.
“It has that scope and that feeling that everything is achievable. So to be part of it and to try to work towards that achievement and success, that is what it is all about and to be perfectly honest, when you are working at it, it is non-stop, 24/7, but it doesn't feel like that.
“It only feels like that when you are not doing it and you come out of it.
“That is how I feel about the place. It is a great working environment, it is great to win, but I think what is instilled in you, and particularly through Sir Alex, is that hard working, winning mentality, and how do you get there? Because that just doesn't happen.
“How do you get that out of a team of people? What individuals can make that happen and combine it as a team to go on this journey of success? And it is really difficult to get that consistency, and repair slight damages along the way.
“It is never a smooth journey, but it is an interesting one.”
WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY?
While there are no fixtures until Wednesday, our focus on the international break ramps up as we discuss why this fortnight of qualifiers will be different than usual and take a look at Mason Greenwood’s involvement in the upcoming Under-21 European Championships.
There’s news of an award for one of our young players, while one year on from the first lockdown being declared in the United Kingdom, we talk to reporters and fans on their football experiences during the pandemic.
Plus, look out for a fun United Quiz in the afternoon…
WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY?
We published our Week Ahead article, detailing when and where United’s various internationals will be in action over the next seven days.
James Garner was the headline performer in this week’s Loan Watch, which also included some praise for Facundo Pellistri from one of Europe’s very best strikers, while Amad was called up for international duty for the first time.
Talking of leading marksmen, Ruud van Nistelrooy recently looked back on ‘his greatest moment’ during an exclusive interview with United Review, while, in a separate podcast with former Red Rio Ferdinand, reminisced about his experiences of Roy Keane.
Finally, away from first-team action, the date and time for United’s upcoming FA Youth Cup fixture with Liverpool was finalised.