Updated: Monday, 21st October 2019 @ 1:38pm

Dogged Mike Phelan insists Manchester United 'must do better' in Champions League after last year's slump

Dogged Mike Phelan insists Manchester United 'must do better' in Champions League after last year's slump

By Dean Wilkins

Manchester United must bounce back from a poor Champions League performance last year and return to their former glory, insists assistant manager Mike Phelan.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were sent crashing out in the group stages after losing to Basel in a must win game – and were later humiliated by Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League, losing 2-3 at home.

And with what seems to be a straightforward draw for the Premier League’s second-best team – joining Braga, Galatasaray and Cluj – Phelan is not expecting the Reds to sit back again.

"Europe’s always big at this football club," he said. "The traditions are set within the European boundaries for Manchester United and we know we have to do better.

"We let Europe slip from our grasp too easily last year. The players are conscious and aware of that, although we haven’t dwelled on it as that wouldn’t be positive.

“We’ve put it down as a blip, but we know we have to do better."

United did not make the knockout stage for the first time since 2005 and have brought in five new players to bolster their European hunt for glory – including Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa who have competition experience.

And having agonisingly missed out on any major silverware last year, Phelan is determined that United’s current strike force will power them to glory.

"You learn it’s a team game, even though individuals change matches," said Phelan. "Everybody has to be fully focused for the entire match – from first to last whistle.

“I think we also know that we need to score plenty of goals. The old days of being able to win the league by grinding out 1-0 victories is gone.

“In this league now, every goal counts so we want to create more chances and score more goals. We also have to defend well as a unit. All those elements are very important."

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.