Sir Alex Ferguson believes David Moyes made a huge mistake when he decided not to retain the services of Mike Phelan at Manchester United.
After leading United to their 20th league title in 2013 – of which he had oversaw 13 – Ferguson announced he would step down as manager of the Old Trafford giants. Moyes, who had built a reputation as one of the best young coaches in Europe after more than a decade at Everton, was quickly installed as his successor and he began work that summer.
However, the former Preston North End boss lasted just 10 months in the hotseat, before he was handed his P45 with the Reds some way off their minimum target of fourth place. At the end of the campaign the champions actually finished in seventh, their lowest position since the inception of the Premier League, missing out on European football altogether.
Looking back at one of the darkest periods in the club’s recent history, Ferguson reveals in his new book ‘Leading’ his opinion that Moyes’ mistake was not retaining the backroom staff which had served the club so well. The former Everton boss instead decided to bring his own men in, yet his predecessor believes that he would have benefited from the experience of Phelan.
“He had been consistent in his job at Everton, had a good spell there – 11 years – and showed appetite,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, somehow it didn’t work out for David. I’m sure there are things that David would do differently if he had the opportunity to relive his time at Old Trafford. Such as keeping Mick Phelan, who would have been the invaluable guide to the many layers of the club.”
It has always been reported that Moyes was recommended by Ferguson and was the first choice to succeed him in the dugout. However, the 73-year-old has now indicated that his compatriot may have actually been as low down as fifth in the pecking order, but other more decorated coaches were simply unavailable at the time he decided to call time on his 26-year reign.
“I asked Pep [Guardiola] to phone me before he accepted an offer from another club but he didn’t and wound up joining Bayern Munich in July 2013,” he wrote. “It became apparent that Jose Mourinho had given his word that he would return to Chelsea and that Carlo Ancelotti would succeed him at Real Madrid. We also knew that Jurgen Klopp was happy at Borussia Dortmund Meantime, Louis van Gaal had undertaken to lead the Dutch attempt to win the 2014 World Cup.”