I was in charge! Mike Phelan claims he was Manchester United boss in ‘all but name’ under Sir Alex Ferguson

By Sean Butters

Former Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan has spoken candidly of the reality of his role under Sir Alex Ferguson, claiming he was ‘the boss in all but name’.

Phelan helped guide United to three Premier League titles, a Club World Cup triumph and two Champions League finals after replacing Carlos Queiroz in 2008 before his position was terminated earlier this year.

But the former midfielder, who played under Sir Alex at Old Trafford from 1989-1994, believes that following his work at United he is deserving of a managerial role.

“With the way things have gone, my first thoughts are to be the boss,” he told The Daily Mail.

“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.”

“People don’t know what I’ve done and what I’ve delivered.

Phelan credited Sir Alex with having the final say at the club, but pointed to a more structured hierarchy than initially appears.

“He was the head of the establishment, there’s no doubt about it and rightly so,” he said.

“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 [the backroom staff] all were undercover in that respect. We weren’t the face of what was going on but that was our job.”

The 51-year-old was part of the majority of the United coaching staff who lost their jobs off the back of Sir Alex’s retirement in May, as new manager David Moyes brought in his own backroom set-up, including the man who took Phelan’s job, Steve Round.

Phelan has been working as a pundit for Setanta Sports since he left Old Trafford.

But rather than harbour any regrets, the one-time England international is focused on the road ahead despite being best known for his time as an assistant.

“I’m not saying I’ve become institutionalised at Manchester United, but my qualities have been at Manchester United,” he said.

“Now I’m going out into the big bad world of football and people who are looking for managers probably don’t know me as me. They know me as Mick Phelan the assistant manager at Man United.”

“I’ve no relationship that way because it’s been purely 20 years of Manchester United. I don’t know if that’s a hindrance but anybody who wants to have a look at me, they can do.”

Image courtesy of ITV via YouTube, with thanks

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