Mike Phelan at Old Trafford.

Phelan is confident United will climb the league table

Manchester United first-team coach Mike Phelan is unfazed by the task of climbing the Premier League table and finishing in the top four, based on the club’s history and culture of fighting until the end.

The Reds have won eight consecutive matches, including six in the top flight, since Old Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed caretaker manager last month - when Phelan also returned as part of his staff.  

We are currently sixth in the Premier League table and only three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, with 15 matches still to play this season. Phelan says he is confident of making further progress, in an interview that appears in Tuesday night’s edition of United Review.

“We’re chasing a pack but I have known Manchester United claw back points before,” says Phelan. “We can only do our own job, keep doing what we’ve been doing, keep pressing all of the right buttons. We’re going to lose a few games, which happens in football, but at this moment in time we’re winning a few as well. Our aim is to try and do even better, to try and push the players further. 

I have experienced a lot of things at Manchester United and I want this next generation of players to do the same. They have won some things, but they haven’t won everything, and I want them to win everything. Why shouldn’t we? You’ve got to be greedy and to keep pushing. What they’re here for is to be better players, better individuals and to win something for this club and themselves.“ 

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Manchester United first-team coach Mike Phelan during an interview.
Watch part of our interview with Mike Phelan ahead of the Premier League match against Burnley.
Speaking of experience, Phelan worked with some of the finest and most successful squads in United history during his time as part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s staff. When asked how the current crop compares, he is clear in his message that anything can be achieved with the right approach and mentality.  

“Players are talented here because they’re here for a reason,”
says Phelan.
“It’s up to them to embrace Manchester United, the ethos, and everything around it. That’s the reason why they’re here. Ability shouldn’t be an issue; they shouldn’t get through the door if they haven’t got the ability, so what is important is that we make sure we only bring in that quality and personality, that charismatic sort that can enhance what is already here. That is a major responsibility. 

They all enjoy the moment and take away great memories of the opportunities they get for being a Manchester United player. Winning is there, it’s got to be – the size of the football club demands that. We’re trying to build something. Ole is temporarily in charge and I am temporarily here; until anybody changes that, we will do everything we possibly can to make this environment pleasurable and reflect that on the pitch.
Back at the club and enjoying every minute, Phelan is relishing his new relationship with Solskjaer after previously working with the Norwegian as a player. In his interview, Mike delivers a modest assessment of their results together so far, and shines a light on the wider coaching staff. 

“It is working okay,”
he says.
“It’s not just myself and Ole – there’s Kieran McKenna involved, Michael Carrick learning his trade, so the balance is good, the feedback is good and we get on. It’s a nice split age range, so we’ve all got different ideas, we communicate a lot and it is quite refreshing. It takes me back a little bit into the processes we had before, which was a little bit of youth, a bit of experience, a little bit of knowledge. There’s an extra dynamic, that is all part of a football club.”
Mike Phelan says

"We’re trying to build something. Ole is temporarily in charge and I am temporarily here; until anybody changes that, we will do everything we possibly can to make this environment pleasurable."

Phelan reflects on an emotional return to the club during his in-depth interview for United Review, while also providing his thoughts on facing his boyhood club Burnley – who still mean a lot to him.

“The club means everything to me,” he says. “I was a schoolboy and I supported the club. I lived not far from the area, so I grew up the Burnley way really, supporting my local team. I always wanted to be on that turf.

”My father and my uncles took me to the games, and life revolved around Burnley Football Club, and to join them was brilliant for me as a schoolboy. Burnley had really good coaches and a great scouting network. It was progressive. Everything was about learning the game, learning to be a good professional. If you were good enough, you were old enough, so you got the opportunity.“ 

Read the full interview with Phelan in Tuesday's edition of United Review.