Mike Phelan has been confirmed as Manchester United’s assistant manager on a three-year deal
Mike Phelan first left the club in 2013 when David Moyes took over.
The 56-year-old returned to United in December as part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s backroom team.
Phelan, who was sacked as Hull City manager in 2017, had most recently held the role of sporting director at Australian side Central Coast Mariners.
He served as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant from 2008 to 2013, having been a first-team coach since 2001.
“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,” said Phelan.
Solskjaer said Phelan had been “invaluable” to him, adding: “I’ve been a player under him, his knowledge, experience, demeanour, everyone in the club enjoys speaking to him, talking to him, discussing football with him, players really respect him, they know what he can do and he’s worked with the best.
“I’m very pleased they’ve finally agreed. When Ed (Woodward) rang me [in December], he [Phelan] was my first port of call to assist me and we’re here now for a few years together.”
‘Miracle to challenge for title’
United host Cardiff on Sunday for the last game of the season but they will miss out on a Champions League place regardless of the result.
They are 29 points behind leader Manchester City and have not won the title since Ferguson’s last season in 2012-13.
“I think I’ve been quite honest that challenging for the title next year would be a miraculous season because we’re so far behind at the moment points wise,” said Solskjaer.
“So next season, we’ve got to close that gap. If we manage to get to February, March being close, that’s fantastic but if not this summer will also be about players who can last here for many years.”
After Jose Mourinho was sacked in December, Solskjaer got United back into top-four contention and they were fourth in February after he won eight of his first nine league games.
But they have only won four games in all competitions since, losing to Wolves in the FA Cup quarter-final and knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona.
They are winless in their last five games, their worst sequence since they went eight games without a victory under Louis van Gaal between November and December 2015.
Asked how the season has gone, the Norwegian said: “It’s a mixture because we were so far behind when we came in before Christmas.
“I could sense the positivity, when you start winning games it was fantastic to be in that group. That showed us the potential and quality in the players [but] of course we didn’t have the consistency.
“We just fell that short of what would be a miraculous target of fourth back in December. It’s been a mixed bag for me but I can handle it, I’m just thinking about the players, how emotional it will have been for them – they started the season with one manager, finished with another one, they’ve had the highs and lows.
“I’ve been in football a few more years than these and I’ve had those emotions but I’ve looked forward coming in every day, so have the players.
“Even though sometimes after games you’ve lost, you feel that we’ve let ourselves down but overall it’s been an adventure for me so far. I’d absolutely loved it.”
Solskjaer said he hoped to give club captain Antonio Valencia “a nice send-off”, with the full-back set to leave the club after 10 years.
Another player who could be leaving is Ander Herrera, with the Spanish midfielder expected to leave the club for Paris St-Germain when his contract ends in June.
“Ander might play,” said Solskjaer. “I don’t know yet. We haven’t picked the team and he’s probably going to announce later on where he’s going to continue his football.”
United have been linked with 21-year-old Swansea winger Daniel James, but Solskjaer would not comment on the rumours.
“We’ve identified some players we think will fit the United squad and let’s hope we can get some over the line,” he said.
“The earlier you can do the transfers, the better it is because when you come in on 1 July, you want to have a nice picture of what this team is going to be looking like.”
Phelan’s appointment means he has been ruled out of the running to become technical director.
“The club will announce when they feel they’ve found the right man,” added Solskjaer.
“Until then we just work on the same structure we have now. I can say for me, Mick, we’ve been involved in loads of meetings about recruiting players and how we go forward.
“I’m happy with the communication and the targets we’ve put up.”