Mike Phelan: Ferguson’s former right-hand man back at Old Trafford

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will not be the only familiar face returning to Manchester United for the rest of the season, with Mike Phelan due to serve as his assistant until the summer.

Phelan was a long-time first-team coach and assistant under Sir Alex Ferguson, and his arrival will offer further encouragement to United fans that they will rediscover their identity from that era.

Here, Football Paradise tracks Phelan’s long association with the Red Devils and his rise in coaching.

1989 – Signs for United

Soccer – Barclays League Division One – Queen’s Park Rangers v Norwich City – Loftus Road
Phelan (right) in action for Norwich before earning his move to Old Trafford (Jim James/PA)

Sir Alex Ferguson paid £750,000 to sign Phelan from Norwich, bringing him back to his native north west where he had started his career with Burnley. He earned what proved to be his only England cap, against Italy, soon after joining United.

1993 – Premier League success

Soccer – FA Cup Final Replay – Crystal Palace v Manchester United – Wembley Stadium
Phelan was part of the United side that lifted the FA Cup in 1990 (PA)

Phelan was part of the United sides that won the FA Cup in 1990, European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1991 and the League Cup in 1992, while his only league title came the following year as United won the inaugural Premier League crown. Phelan was, however, being squeezed out of the side as young players emerged and he would not make enough appearances to earn a medal the following season before leaving for West Brom.

1999 – Return to United

Soccer – FA Barclays Premiership – Manchester United v Charlton Athletic
Phelan would work alongside Sir Alex Ferguson for many years (Phil Noble/PA)

Phelan immediately took up coaching after his playing career, first as an assistant at Norwich before spells in a similar role with Blackpool and Stockport. He left the latter when Gary Megson was sacked in 1999 and joined Manchester United, initially working with the reserves. He would become first-team coach when Steve McClaren left for Middlesbrough in 2001.

2008 – Rise to assistant

Soccer – Barclays Premier League – Manchester United v Arsenal – Old Trafford
Phelan celebrates United’s 2009 Premier League title alongside Ferguson (Nick Potts/PA)

Phelan became Sir Alex Ferguon’s right-hand man in 2008 when Carlos Quieroz took the Portugal job. He became a prominent face of the club, particularly on the BBC where Ferguson refused to do post-match interviews for Match of the Day. During his time working with the first team, United won six Premier League titles, the Champions League and the FA Cup. Phelan would leave the club shortly after Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.

2016 – Phelan the manager

Burnley v Hull City – Premier League – Turf Moor
Mike Phelan’s only spell as a permanent manager in his own right came at Hull (Clint Hughes/PA)

After United Phelan initially headed to Norwich to work as first-team coach and then caretaker when Neil Adams resigned in early 2015. He then joined Hull as number two to Steve Bruce and, after success as a caretaker when Bruce left, was appointed first-team manager on a permanent basis in October 2016. But results soon tailed off and he was sacked the following January, subsequently working as sporting director for the Central Coast Mariners in Australia before this week’s call from Old Trafford.

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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