Former Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan spoke to BBC Radio 5 Live last night for the first time since his departure from Old Trafford.
Phelan was one of the first casualties of the Moyes era, leaving United last month having been on the coaching staff since 1999. The 50 year old told Mark Chapman on the ‘Monday Night Club’ how he found out that Sir Alex would be retiring and how he found out he would be leaving Old Trafford:
“I was driving in in the morning, I heard a little bit on the radio that something was happening and sometimes as you do you think ‘aye, aye, here we go’, it’s just somebody mischief making a little bit you know because it’s happened before but then it started to gather a bit of legs and as we got in I knocked on his door with a cup of tea and sat down and he just told me, he just said ‘well, you’ve heard a little bit on the radio I am assuming and all that’, he says, ‘well I am going to do it, I am going to call it quits at the end of the season’. I mean it is a difficult one, I mean sometimes you can look back and think ‘well, I’d have liked to have known a bit earlier or…’ and other people probably would but really you’ve got to put yourself in his position.”
Sir Alex’s departure meant that his job as second in command would be up in the air when new manager Moyes came in, and unfortunately for him, Moyes decided against keeping him on. Asked what he did when it was announced Moyes would be taking over, Phelan replied:
“You just wait and then when that moment comes you have the chat and see where you stand in it all.
“The chat was very good, I mean it was quite open, it was honest, I had a couple of talks with him, he wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do, and then we met up again, a little bit later, and then he just delivered the message that I wasn’t going to be part of his team, fair enough, you move on you know. And I wish him the best of luck. I think he’s definitely going to need it because everybody needs luck. And it will be a difficult job for him but eh, it will be a great job.”
One of Moyes’ big tasks now will be shaping the squad how he sees fit, the Wayne Rooney issue still looms large and Phelan had some interesting comments on that. After discussing Rooney’s time at United, Phelan was asked if trying to leave Old Trafford for a second time would affect his standing with the fans:
“I think that is a difficult one, I think you can put your first one down to inexperience maybe but the second one is putting yourself right out there and somewhere along the line there will be , I think some words said, there will be some meetings, and they will see whether it’s still alive and worth going for or they will call it, call time on it.”
Finally when asked about the possibility of Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Old Trafford and if he and Sir Alex had been working on a deal to get the Portugal star back, Phelan replied with a laugh: