Manchester United have handed assistant manager Mike Phelan a new contract — in a move which further underlines their support for boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Sportsmail understands that the Norwegian’s No 2 has had his current deal, which was due to expire next year, extended to 2024.
That duration matches the length of the new contract Solskjaer signed in July and will be viewed as more backing for the manager, who has overseen a stuttering start to United’s campaign despite a big summer outlay.
Manchester United have rewarded Mike Phelan (left ) with a new contract to stay until 2024
Saturday’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Everton meant the Premier League giants have failed to win four of their last six games in all competitions.
Despite sitting fourth in the table, embarrassing losses at home to Aston Villa in the league, West Ham in the Carabao Cup and at Swiss minnows Young Boys in the Champions League have ramped up the heat on Solskjaer ahead of the international break.
After the stalemate with Everton, Cristiano Ronaldo stormed down the tunnel in a move which drew criticism from former United defender Gary Neville.
‘Actions like that — and Cristiano is smart enough to know this — will bring real pressure on the manager,’ said Neville of the Portuguese, who started the game on the bench.
The 59-year-old has been Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s right hand man since he took over in 2019
Phelan, 59, is a much-liked figure within the club and played for them between 1989 and 1994. He was a long-serving assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson but departed following the appointment of David Moyes in 2013. He returned to assist Solskjaer, initially on a temporary basis, in late 2018 after the exit of Jose Mourinho.
Solskjaer has been heavily backed since taking charge on a permanent basis in March 2019. This summer, Raphael Varane (£41million) and Jadon Sancho (£73m) arrived before Ronaldo, with a widely held view that the Norwegian needs to deliver some form of return on the substantial investment.
Meanwhile, former United wonderkid Angel Gomes has revealed he left the club over a lack of game time ahead of his England Under 21 debut.
Phelan’s (left) contract extension gives Solskjaer a major vote of confidence amid a poor run
Lille snapped up Gomes on a free transfer last year after the attacking midfielder, who became the youngest United debutant since Duncan Edwards in May 2017, rejected a new contract.
The 21-year-old has since shone in the Champions League for the French champions and is set for a first appearance for Lee Carsley’s Young Lions in Slovenia on Thursday.
‘Everyone always says I left for money which, for me, makes no sense,’ Gomes (below) said. ‘Why would anyone leave Man United, the biggest club in the world, with a lot of money, to go to the French league to play for Lille?
‘It was more to do with the pathway and the opportunity that Lille were bringing.
‘It was just a decision I chose to make and nothing to do with personal issues at the club or anything. It was the biggest sacrifice I’ve ever made.’
United have picked up just one point from two league games after drawing against Everton
Gomes, heralded as one of the best prospects to come out of United’s academy, leaned on godfather and former United winger Nani for counsel in the months before departing the club.
‘There was a lot of pressure and a lot of negativity which came from that,’ he added. ‘I spoke to him (Nani) about it. His influence has been massive for me.
‘He was someone I grew up idolising, not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well. With me he was amazing, humble and normal.