Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Mike Phelan claims he 'took charge of Manchester United while Alex Ferguson took all the glory'

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10: Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson (R) and Assistant Mike Phelan encourage their players during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the City of Manchester Stadium on November 10, 2010 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Alex Ferguson's right-hand man at Manchester United, Mike Phelan, makes some surprising revelations about life at Old Trafford under the Scot

Mike Phelan has lifted the lid on Sir Alex Ferguson's last few seasons as Manchester United, and as assistant manager for half a decade the 51-year-old had a front-row seat and has now provided a fascinating insight in to how things were run at the club.

The former United right back, who graduated to become Ferguson's right-hand man at Old Trafford for five years until the Scot finally retired in the summer, suggests that he took charge of most of the first-team responsibilities himself, albeit "undercover", while the 71-year-old took the plaudits.

Phelan is now looking for work as a manager – rather than assistant – having been let go as Ferguson's successor, David Moyes, sought to stamp his authority on his new regime and sever ties with the old rule. It is a role he feels he is more than able to excel at, having effectively been in charge of first-team operations at United for so long, he believes.

"My first thoughts are to be the boss," Phelan told the Daily Mail, having been asked about a return to football. "It’s the progression for me now. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last five years, albeit with the title of assistant boss.

"[Ferguson] was the head of the establishment, there’s no doubt about it and rightly so. He didn’t get to where he’s got through not being a big decision maker but he’ll be the first to admit that a lot of people played their part in that.

"We all were undercover in that respect. We weren’t the face of what was going on but that was our job."

Phelan, winner of one England cap, insists that he is "more than capable of handling" decision making at added: "It’s a case now that if the opportunity comes up to be a boss then I’ll have a look at it. [My qualities] have been shown there (at Manchester United)."

Additionally, Phelan revealed in the Daily Mirror earlier in November that Ferguson used to make key choices by the toss of a coin.

"Part of my job was to hold him back because he could come out with some very strange decisions at times," Phelan said. "I had to guide him through them and I managed to do that.

"It’s one of the hardest things for a manager to say to a player that they’re not involved in a particular game after a hard week’s training.

"But he would toss a coin at times in situations like that. Big managers have to make big decisions and over a period of more than 20 years he made more right decisions than he did wrong ones."

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