Manchester United v Wolves: Match in pictures
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Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has called on Mike Phelan to help him unify a dressing room in disarray at Old Trafford. Many questioned why Phelan stayed at United after Rangnick replaced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November, but he now has a crucial role in mending relationships within the squad and preventing further disaster this season.
Players faced criticism for their body language and performances in the back end of Solskjaer’s tenure as manager.
And the same issues have continued at the start of Rangnick’s reign, with the German coach winning just three of his six games in charge so far.
Luke Shaw’s poignant post-match interview after Monday’s home defeat against Wolves heightened concerns over the current mood within the camp.
Rangnick himself has also been publicly critical of his squad’s lack of physical intensity and unmotivated body language giving opponents an advantage.
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Plenty of United supporters questioned why Phelan kept his job after Solskjaer’s dismissal.
There has been confusion over his role at the club, especially after Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna’s departures.
But the Telegraph report Phelan has now been tasked to use his expertise to build bridges and improve the morale among players.
The 59-year-old recently held a two-hour meeting with Rangnick over current issues off the pitch and division throughout the squad.
Phelan has been involved with United on-and-off since 1989 as a player and coach and signed a contract extension until 2024, just a month before Solskjaer’s exit.
Rangnick has brought ex-Toronto FC head coach Chris Armas and sports psychologist Sascha Lense to Manchester as part of his backroom staff.
But Phelan has maintained his position, and despite instability after Solskjaer’s exit, he’s held in great regard among those at the club.
He won three Premier League titles alongside Sir Alex Ferguson and helped the Red Devils to the 2011 Champions League final.
There is much work to do behind the scenes at Carrington, and Phelan could be the man for the job, given his strong relationships with players.
United’s dire 1-0 defeat to Wolves last time out has taken a top-four finish out of their hands for now.
Rangnick’s side are currently seventh behind Arsenal, West Ham United, and Tottenham in the race for Champions League qualification.
A week on the training pitch before next Monday’s FA Cup clash with Aston Villa will hopefully reap the rewards in the quest to get back on track.
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