Over a long period of time, including during Cristiano Ronaldo’s time at the club, Mike Phelan worked as Man United’s assistant manager.
Prior to the hiring of Erik ten Hag, Mike Phelan said that Cristiano Ronaldo would become angry when his teammates did not respond to his efforts to raise standards in the Manchester United locker room.
When Ten Hag left Ajax last summer, the team was in disarray, and the team had just finished the regular season in sixth place after a horrendous run of defeats.
Ronaldo led United in goals scored during the season, but Ten Hag later let him go in November.
Phelan spoke to Sky Sports this week while serving as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s and Ralf Rangnick’s deputy managers.
The 60-year-old, who only recently resigned from his position at United last year, was at the team throughout both of Ronaldo’s tenures and he opened up on what specifically went wrong for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner following his spectacular comeback to Old Trafford.
“The second time around, he came in a lot older and a lot more opinionated, strong-willed,” Phelan remarked. “He was great to work with and still had really high standards. But I suppose I’d say a more resilient mindset.
“He had previously played for Man United, Real Madrid, and Portugal as their constant. I appreciated that he encouraged other people’s standards to rise rather than lower his own. And when that occurs, perhaps you lose a few people along the road.
“I can recall instances where he pressed repeatedly but received little to no response. And frustration followed. When dealing with the very best, it’s all about them, where they may go, and what they can accomplish.
“They want to reflect on a successful endeavor and exclaim, “Wow. He probably realized that he couldn’t succeed at Manchester United, though I can’t say for sure because I never had that talk with him. His difficulties therefore lay elsewhere.
“Yes, he is in Saudi Arabia, but he is still participating in international football and scoring goals. He is performing all the tasks at Manchester United that we thought he was capable of. But a really terrific personality, one that is tough and hard-working.
“He put me, Carlos Queiroz, and Sir Alex Ferguson under pressure as coaches and managers. However, that’s advantageous because it raises your level.
Phelan played at United from 1989 until 1994 before returning to the organization in 2000 as a coach. In 2001, he joined Sir Alex Ferguson’s first team staff, and in 2008, he took Queiroz’s spot as an assistant.