Erik ten Hag was officially appointed the next Manchester United manager in April this year but since then, only two assistants have been officially confirmed to be part of his first-team staff.
Mitchell van der Gaag, who assisted Ten Hag at Ajax, and Steve McClaren, with whom he worked at Twente, were announced shortly after.
It’s believed that further appointments have been made behind the scenes but no major departures have been announced. Ralf Rangnick’s recruits left the club following his departure earlier this year.
Now, it looks like Ten Hag is finally shaping his backroom staff into his liking after it emerged that Mike Phelan, who was appointed when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer signed in 2018, has left first-team operations.
Phelan was Solskjaer’s trusted right-hand man and stayed on when Rangnick arrived last year. But now, the Manchester Evening News claim that although Phelan remains under contract at Old Trafford, he is no longer involved in first-team affairs.
As per the report, Phelan’s ties with United may not be cut, however, with the club said to be in talks with him over an ambassadorial role.
Phelan now becomes the fourth senior coach from Solskjaer’s team to leave the club, with Michael Carrick, Kieran McKenna and Martyn Pert all doing so earlier.
Ten Hag is very meticulous and although there is little clarity on whether this development was his doing, it’s fair to assume that he was unlikely to champion another staff member unless they were fully on the same page.
Phelan is believed to be on good terms with most people at the club and suggestions of a potential ambassadorial role are testament to that.
Phelan played for United, was part of the coaching side which reached two Champions League finals in three years and won three Premier League titles as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant manager.