Mike Phelan has revealed the difficulties Ralf Rangnick faced during his time as interim manager of Manchester United.
Speaking to Sky Sports, the former coach questioned whether a club the size of United would ever have been able to function with a caretaker manager.
“It wasn’t easy with it because Manchester United – does it need a caretaker manager? It needs a proper manager – and I’m not saying Ralf wasn’t a proper manager, but he came in under this caretaker role having been one at a smaller club.”
Phelan believed the interim role could never have provided enough time to turn around a sinking ship: “I always thought it would be difficult for him to establish momentum, to sort out the players in a short space of time.”
Phelan was quick to stress the qualities Rangnick brought however.
He praised the German’s work ethic; a prerequisite of a manager at the helm of Old Trafford.
“I have a lot of respect for Ralf, it was a difficult position to take on. But he really did try and worked immensely hard,” Phelan contends.
The former United coach also reveals there were frustrations shared by the entire coaching staff at Old Trafford in this period, including Rangnick. “He had his frustrations along the way, as a lot of us did.”
The 2021/22 season was an historically poor one for United. The team finished 6th, despite a second place finish the season prior. They finished with 58 points, the lowest in United’s time in the Premier League, and a goal difference of 0.
The relationship between the fans and players also reached a state of abject apathy. Numerous leaks from the dressing room indicated the first-team squad were making as many poor decisions off the pitch, as they were on it.
Phelan describes this situation as “turbulent”. The type of environment a manager without the authority of a long-term contract would always struggle to impose themselves upon.
Rangnick ultimately left Old Trafford once the 2021/22 season ended in favour of international football.
The German became the head coach of the Austrian national team. Austria currently sit joint 2nd in their EURO 2024 Qualifying Group, level on points with Belgium. If they beat Sweden on Tuesday, they appear a lock in for qualification.
Phelan acknowledges the job Rangnick is doing in his new role: “…he’s back in the international game and he seems to be doing really well. And I’m pleased.”