It must be pretty good to be Mike Phelan right now.
Not too long ago, Phelan was happy to get a guest spot on Sky Sports News yet now he’s being credited as one of the reasons that Manchester United are on an upward curve after a turbulent start to the season under Jose Mourinho.
Phelan was one of the first people Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turned to as he returned to Old Trafford as interim manager in December. As an assistant, he enjoyed great success alongside Sir Alex Ferguson though his own managerial career didn’t match those highs.
With Solskjaer now confirmed as United’s permanent manager, Phelan is a man in demand but United will have to pay a compensation fee to Australian A-League side Central Coast Mariners where he is still employed as sporting director.
One of the common themes of Solskjaer’s return to Old Trafford has been a near obsession with nostalgia. He frequently mentions the Champions League win of 1999 and lovingly refers to Sir Alex Ferguson as the gaffer.
Some may argue that this desire to bring up United’s glory days of the 1990s has become a bit tiresome and at times it’s as if he’s been given a list of trigger words to mention in every interview. But compared to the dour, miserable press conferences of Jose Mourinho - a man who refused to find a house in the city - it has pushed a lot of buttons for the fans.
Even in yesterday’s press conference, Solskjaer talked about United as being a big family - the kind of words that all supporters love to hear
Phelan represents yet another link to the past. He was a decent enough defender, sometimes midfielder - making more than 100 appearances for the club - but it was as a coach where he etched himself into the club’s history. Solskjaer has spoken warmly about his influence many times and he’d love to have him back in the fold.
After leaving United, Phelan had spells as assistant manager to Gary Megson at Norwich City. He followed Megson to Blackpool and Stockport County before returning to United to work at their Centre of Excellence.
When Steve McClaren left United to take over at Middlesbrough, he became United’s assistant coach in 1999. He was promoted to first-team coach in 2001 and stayed in the role until 2013.
In 2014, Phelan became the first team coach at Norwich, briefly stepping in as caretaker in 2015.
Hull City appointed Phelan as assistant to Steve Bruce in 2015 and he soon found himself as the club’s manager after Bruce resigned.
While Thursday was all about Ole, there were plenty of United fans who were demanding that Phelan should be the next one to be given a new contract. Through his Twitter account - which nobody is entirely sure whether he updates himself or not - he has further added to his legend.
Phelan loves nothing more than tweeting images of himself or Solskjaer clenching their fist or celebrating. It’s the kind of stuff which is lapped up by the fans and one of the reasons that they want him to get behind the wheel with Solskjaer.