Mike Phelan was confirmed as Manchester United’s assistant manager on permanent basis on Friday after being given a three-year contract, the Premier League club said in a statement.
Former United player Phelan returned to Old Trafford in December as assistant to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following Jose Mourinho’s dismissal.
He previously worked in a similar role, as well as that of first-team coach, under Alex Ferguson from 2001-13 — a period in which the club won seven Premier League titles.
“I am thrilled to be back as Assistant Manager,” Phelan said. “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.
“Since returning in December, I have enjoyed working with Ole, Michael (Carrick), Kieran, Mark and Emilio and we are all focused on preparing for the new season.”
While Solskjaer’s appointment in December as interim manager sparked a return to form for United, since he was given the job on a permanent basis results have slumped and United will finish outside the Premier League’s top four.
They host relegated Cardiff City in their final match of the campaign on Sunday, after which the focus will turn to next season and reviving the club’s fortunes.
“Mike is a great person to have around and has been invaluable to me since we returned in December,” Solskjaer said. “He brings a wealth of experience to this role with a long established connection to the club.”
Midfielder Phelan joined United in 1989 from Norwich City and spent five years there before finishing his playing career at West Bromwich Albion.
His coaching life began at Norwich where he had a spell as assistant manager, a role he also took at Blackpool and Stockport County before forming a hugely-successful spell working alongside Ferguson.
He left when Ferguson retired in 2013, returning as an assistant at Norwich before a short spell as Hull City manager.
Phelan’s deep understanding of the club could prove invaluable to Solskjaer who has the daunting task of trying to close the gap on the club’s two fiercest rivals, Liverpool and Manchester City who are locked in a titanic title battle.
United are 29 points behind City and 28 behind Liverpool.
Man Utd need miracle to mount challenge next season-Solskjaer
Manchester United would need a “miraculous season” to be in the running for the Premier League title next year because of how much their rivals have improved, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Friday.
United are sixth in the standings with 66 points, 29 behind leaders Manchester City and 28 behind Liverpool going into their final game of the campaign against Cardiff City on Sunday.
“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 points-wise,” Solskjaer told a news conference.
“Next season we have to close that gap, if we manage to get to February or March and still be close that’s fantastic. If not this summer will also be about players that can last here for many years.
“We want to get back to where we used to be… it’s going to be important we come together from the first day.”
The Norwegian said at the club’s end-of-season awards on Thursday night that they should invest wisely in the transfer market and nurture youth players to become competitive again.
“We’ve never been a readymade club. Cristiano Ronaldo was never readymade, Wayne Rooney was never readymade. Loads of the players that come here and developed into the top superstars that they have become,” Solskjaer added.
“That’s always going to be the model. We’ll develop players because I’ve got the best staff, the best environment and the best supporters because they love players that excite them.”
Midfielder Ander Herrera’s contract expires at the end of the season and British media reports have linked the Spaniard with a switch to Paris St Germain.
Solskjaer was unsure about Herrera’s future although he could feature on Sunday.
“I don’t know yet. We haven’t picked the team,” Solskjaer said. “He’ll probably announce later where he is going to continue his football.”
Club captain Antonio Valencia is set to leave at the end of the campaign in which he form and fitness have failed him.
“Antonio has really struggled but I have spoken to him and he thinks he can play a part on Sunday. We hope to give him a nice send-off. That’s only fair,” Solskjaer added.