As the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era quickly recedes in the rear view mirror, Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick seems keen to place his own hands firmly on the wheel.
It’s early days in the new United order, but the 63-year old has already put his stamp on the training set up by bringing in former New York Red Bulls coach Chris Armas.
Armas is the latest addition to Rangnick’s coaching team, following the recent hiring of sports psychologist and former Red Bull cohort Sascha Lense.
With Michael Carrick having already left the club, it leaves just Keiran McKenna and Reds’ stalwart Mike Phelan as the most notable remaining voices from the previous Carrington regime.
While McKenna is known to be a hands-on figure at the Reds’ training base, Phelan’s involvement has always appeared to be a little less clear.
As reported by The MEN, Rangnick has tried to clarify confusion over the 59-year-old’s role at the club, by confirming that he “…is never on the pitch” during sessions.
On the new-look training structure, the German said, “Since Michael Carrick is no longer on board we needed somebody else to replace him, so Chris Armas is one of two assistant coaches now with Kieran.
“So I have the two of them who help me to prepare training sessions, to discuss video footage together with [analyst] Paul Brand.”
On Phelan’s day-to-day involvement, he continued, “Mike Phelan is not watching the training sessions – he also didn’t do that when Ole was in charge – but he’s also part of the training group of the staff.
“But he is never on the pitch when we train. He’s not out there and he didn’t do that when Ole was in charge. Chris will not replace Mike but much rather Michael Carrick.”
Well, that’s that cleared up then. Perhaps understandably, the German’s comments were met with a mixture of anger and confusion on Twitter:
‘Rangnick basically hinting at Phelan to leave as he isn’t contributing anything. He needs to be embarrassed. Clinging on like this.’
Rangnick basically hinting at Phelan to leave as he isn't contributing anything. He needs to be embarrassed. Clinging on like this.
— ❄️ (@Valnoon13) December 10, 2021
‘Phelan has been left massively exposed by Rangnick’s comments. He has to be thinking about leaving the club after that. I don’t see how he can continue from here…’
Phelan has been left massively exposed by Rangnick's comments.
He has to be thinking about leaving the club after that.
— UnitedSupremo 🇩🇪 (@UnitedSupremo) December 10, 2021
The report states that Solskjaer himself was given the chance to explain Phelan’s role at the club, but chose to dodge the question – leaving question marks hanging over the situation.
In looking to finally address this lingering uncertainty, Rangnick instead seems to have unintentionally prompted yet more intrigue.
Aside from popping rogue balloons, the true nature of the Fergie-era remnant’s actual position remains shrouded in an impenetrable fog. If he’s not involved in training, what exactly does he do?
All this does little to disprove the impression of ‘jobs for the boys’ and could sharpen scrutiny over the recent decision to reward United’s man of mystery with a new three year contract.