The worst kept secret in soccer is out. Mike Phelan has been named as Manchester United’s assistant manager on a three-year deal.
Phelan, 56, has been Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s assistant since December when the pair were placed in caretaker charge following Jose Mourinho’s firing.
With Solskjaer appointed as the new head coach on a permanent basis last month following a stunning start to life as a caretaker boss, Phelan has had to wait but his place alongside Solskjaer has now been confirmed.
A long-time assistant under Sir Alex Ferguson, Phelan held that role as Fergie’s assistant from 2008-13 and was first team coach from 2001 before that. Since leaving United in 2013 he coached at Hull City in the PL and was a sporting director for the Central Coast Mariners in Australia’s A-League.
“I am thrilled to be back as assistant manager. Manchester United has been a huge part of my life since I joined as a player in 1989 and I am delighted to be able to continue that relationship in this key role,” Phelan said. “Since returning in December, I have enjoyed working with Ole, Michael, Kieran, Mark and Emilio and we are all focused on preparing for the new season.”
Many believe that Phelan’s wealth of knowledge in training and on all things United helped Solskjaer slot into the role seamlessly during his incredible first few months in charge.
Speaking about the appointment, Solskjaer added that Phelan is a “great person to have around” and “brings a wealth of experience to this role with a long established connection to the club.”
A daunting task of turning United into perennial title challengers awaits Phelan and Solskjaer, and if they are successful it will hinge on who Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward hires as the sporting director in the coming months.
United are currently approaching multiple candidates for the position, and both Phelan and Solskjaer will work closely with them to buy players and create a new identity for the Red Devils after the disappointment of finishing outside of the top four this season.
There’s no doubt that Phelan and Ole will have Fergie close by to run a few ideas past.