Former Manchester United assistant Mike Phelan recently opened up about the struggles he faced during his second stint at the club. Phelan, who was Sir Alex Ferguson’s right-hand man during the legendary manager’s tenure, returned to the club in 2019 as part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s backroom staff.
While Phelan praised Solskjaer for his “refreshing” approach and hard work, he also acknowledged the complications that arose during his time at the club. Speaking to Sky Sports, Phelan revealed that there were issues going on behind the scenes that were not present during his first spell at the club. These issues required a lot of attention and took focus away from the football.
One major issue that arose during Phelan’s second stint at the club was the return of Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo had a successful first season back at the club, scoring 24 goals in 38 games. However, the season was ultimately disappointing and resulted in Solskjaer being sacked. Phelan shared that Ronaldo came in with a stronger mindset, having gained experience at other top clubs like Real Madrid. He pushed for high standards and sometimes clashed with teammates who didn’t respond to his demands.
Phelan also spoke about his time working under interim head coach Ralf Rangnick. While Rangnick’s appointment solved the managerial uncertainty at the club, Phelan felt that it was difficult for him to establish momentum and sort out the players in a short space of time.
Another issue that has plagued Manchester United is Harry Maguire’s role in the squad. The defender was stripped of the captaincy and was on the verge of a move to West Ham, which ultimately fell through. Maguire has had limited starts under the new manager, Erik ten Hag, and appears to be on the periphery. Despite the flaws in his game, Phelan believes that Maguire is a good footballer and can overcome these weaknesses.
Phelan left Manchester United last year and has not taken up a new role since departing Old Trafford. His insights shed light on the challenges and complexities of working at one of the biggest clubs in the world.
In conclusion, Mike Phelan’s second stint at Manchester United was not without its struggles. Issues behind the scenes and the high standards set by players like Cristiano Ronaldo presented challenges that required attention and management. Working under interim head coach Ralf Rangnick also posed difficulties in establishing momentum and sorting out the players. Despite these challenges, Phelan believes that players like Harry Maguire have the potential to overcome their weaknesses and contribute positively to the team.