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The full transcript of the Mike Phelan interview with Radio5Live last night

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  • The full transcript of the Mike Phelan interview with Radio5Live last night

    from his audio interview with Radio5Live at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0366ryt


    on Sir Alex Ferguson


    "He tended to always have this personality where he would always get out of the dugout if he really needed to get a point across. He tended to sit down or observe, watch the game, listen to things coming in from one side, which was me and the other side which was maybe the other coach and then he'd make his decisions based on that and sometimes he'd give you a nudge and say 'get up there' and 'tell so and so that that's not working' so you'd do that or have a word with the linesmen, that type of thing (laughs), make sure he's on his toes, this, that and the other, sometimes you were up and down like a yoyo, but all in all it was all done for the right reason, it was because he wanted to win. And if that message wasn't getting to them, he'd get up there himself and just the presence of him on the line would make somebody look to the touchline or you'd get a reaction, it was just he had that respect."


    Q. Do you think Manchester United will miss that presence next season?


    "Erm, it's been there for a long time so there is a possibility that just not having Sir Alex Ferguson on the touchline could affect, yeah, certain games, definitely because I think in some respects some games were won last year and in years previous to that where just his reaction or his reactiveness to a game can win a football match. But at the moment it will be a, there will be a void there I'm sure but the next manager, the new manager David Moyes he'll earn that respect."


    Q. How were you told as his right hand man?


    "I was driving in in the morning, I heard a little bit on the radio that something was happening and sometimes as you do you think 'aye, aye, here we go', it's just somebody mischief making a little bit you know because it's happened before but then it started to gather a bit of legs and as we got in I knocked on his door with a cup of tea and sat down and he just told me, he just said 'well, you've heard a little bit on the radio I am assuming and all that', he says, 'well I am going to do it, I am going to call it quits at the end of the season'. I mean it is a difficult one, I mean sometimes you can look back and think 'well, I'd have liked to have known a bit earlier or…' and other people probably would but really you've got to put yourself in his position."


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    Q. When David Moyes was announced as manager then, what do you do then?


    "You just wait and then when that moment comes you have the chat and see where you stand in it all."


    Q> And what was the chat, can you tell us?


    "The chat was very good, I mean it was quite open, it was honest, I had a couple of talks with him, he wasn't quite sure what he wanted to do, and then we met up again, a little bit later, and then he just delivered the message that I wasn't going to be part of his team, fair enough, you move on you know. And I wish him the best of luck. I think he's definitely going to need it because everybody needs luck. And it will be a difficult job for him but eh, it will be a great job."


    Q. I mean he's come in, today's his first day, he's bought his backroom staff from Everton, he's bought Jimmy Lumsden and Steve Round and Chris Woods as the goalkeeping coach, how will they be with a completely different regime there, sometimes it freshens players up, doesn't it?


    "Yeah it can do, yeah, because players can get stale or even coaches and staff can get a little bit stale now and again the way they don't invigorate the players, so the players themselves will be open to a brand new world I would have thought, obviously along the way you may lose one or two but that's only normal in a football club, but he will also I would think, Manchester United will be looking to move forward anyway and bring in more players to add to what they have already got so in some ways it's exciting times as well you know, they are not going to stand still."


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    Q. What's the area of the squad they need to improve on the most?


    "Well you are always looking for that one player that can make the difference, because one player can change the attitude of everybody. You know we did it with Cristiano Ronaldo and we did it with Robin Van Persie, that did change a few things. And over the years there has always been that odd player, Wayne Rooney obviously, he changed the dynamic of the group, so you don't necessarily have to go out there and buy a lot, but you need to probably look at strengthening probably a midfield area, and I'm not saying that where one needs to come in and play automatically, I think it's a case of, there's a lot of football matches in the Premier League and in Europe and in the Cup games and everything and you do need those players, you know you're talking about top players playing 50+ games a season."


    Q> You mention the players that change the dynamic in a positive way, I mean one player can change the dynamic in a negative way as well, and Wayne Rooney you mentioned in a positive way, the first time he asked for a transfer request, how did that change the dynamic of the football club?


    "Well I don't really think it affected many from the point of view that every player is entitled to express his desire to want to move on or, regardless of whether it is moving on for the challenge or whether it's moving on because he isn't getting paid enough or whatever, I think you are quite open to that. I think any player can do that at any time. I think in Wayne's case in the first instance he probably took a lot of advice on that and thought, and probably steered towards making that call but the manager was terrific really in talking to him and explaining to him that you know, 'why do you want to leave this football club'.


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    Q. The press conference he gave, Alex Ferguson, after Wayne Rooney put that transfer request in, he looked shattered…


    "It was a bit of a tear jerker!"


    Q. So yeah, so now was that truthful, was that…


    "I think that was genuine, I think there was an element that he'd chased this boy, you know what I mean, he'd gone to Everton and he'd more or less paid big money and handed over the cheque himself to get this boy because he was the boy at that time that could change Manchester United and it was the right thing to do so when that sort of connection starts to fray a little bit you want to either snap it or drag it back and I think he was genuine when he wanted to drag that back in because you don't replace people like that, they only come along every so often and that was a young boy of 17 or whatever and looking ahead you are looking at a Manchester United player for 15 years possibly, maybe 10-15 anyway, and you could see that progression in Wayne and you wanted that and you wanted that raw enthusiasm and he was perfect, absolutely perfect for Manchester United. It went together and the manager knew that. He knew what he had. You're always striving for more and you want more from players and you want that, what you see in a 17 year old, you want at 27 and you want, if you can get him to 37 you want it there, like with Giggsy. So you are always pushing them and wanting more and sometimes you get it, sometimes you don't get it. Sometimes it drifts away and you can't have that working relationship but I don't think it ever got to that point with players at Manchester United, they knew that they were in a unique place, they knew they were in a great working environment and they knew that as long as they performed, everything, that's all you have to do, is play football."


    Q> This last season, what's happened with him?


    "You know, he's come from a fresh faced 17 year old to now he's 27/28, he's had that amount of time being under the spotlight and he's delivered. Now he might have hit a little bit of a blip in certain performances and then it's easy to find fault with that but listen he won't be, he isn't the first player to have done that and he won't be the last player to do that. I just think you have to nurse them through it and hopefully he responds to that little bit of nursing and being gentle with him a little bit, and sometimes crack the whip with him because they are men, they are not children, they are not boys, you've got to get as much out of them as you can and I think Wayne has responded as well as he feels he can do for Manchester United. What will be, will be, I haven't got a clue what will happen there but he still is at the greatest club you could be at, I think. So why, for me, why would you want to jeopardise that unless you want the fresh challenge and you don't feel as that challenge is being met at Manchester United"


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    Q> Did you get the sense that the problem towards the end was more with the manager than the club?


    "That would have been a personal chat between the two of them. That wouldn't really come back down to me."


    Q. Never relayed back to you?


    "No, it wouldn't and to be quite honest I wouldn't really want to be in that position because…"


    Q> Do you think you can ask to leave a football club twice and still be accepted by the fans?


    "I think that is a difficult one, I think you can put your first one down to inexperience maybe but the second one is putting yourself right out there and somewhere along the line there will be , I think some words said, there will be some meetings, and they will see whether it's still alive and worth going for or they will call it, call time on it."


    Q. You and Sir Alex didn't leave a deal on the table for Ronaldo to be signed this summer did you?


    "Laughs… No comment!"

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