After a visit to the club in May, the Central Coast Mariners are delighted to officially appoint Manchester United Legend, Mike Phelan as the club’s Sporting Director.
With experience as Sir Alex Ferguson’s right-hand-man at arguably the biggest football club in the world, his knowledge and expertise will be drawn upon to help guide the Mariners Academy set ups whilst working closely with Mike Mulvey’s Hyundai A-League outfit.
In May Phelan took the opportunity to spend time on the Central Coast and provide an invaluable opportunity to the young talent at the Mariners Academy.
Phelan’s impressive CV includes five years as Sir Alex Ferguson's right-hand man, playing his part in three English Premier League title victories, a UEFA Champions League success, a FIFA Club World Cup and two League Cup wins with Manchester United.
The man who worked day-in-day-out with players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs arrives back on the Central Coast next month.
Currently in the U.K., 55-year-old Phelan spoke exclusively to Fox Sport’s Simon Hill about his new role at the Central Coast Mariners.
"I am going to be in Australia for a period of time and then I will do what sporting directors do,” he told Hill. “I will be in and out of the country, examining what other nations around Europe do, making connections on behalf of the Central Coast Mariners.
“That is difficult to do if you are based there. But I will be getting to know the region, how it ticks – and then looking to put some things in place. I will be advising on all aspects of the football side of the club – looking at the youth structure, the academy set up, helping out with the first team environment.
“Trying to improve the facilities, the staff, the whole structure. Giving the Mariners options – then it depends on the owner if he wants to invest in that.
"I must admit when I first took Mike's call, I knew very little [about the A-League. I knew the league had ten teams, and I knew Warren Joyce at (Melbourne) City - so I got on the phone to him, and asked him his thoughts.
“It was interesting what he had to say. He thought it had serious potential. I went to watch the A-League finals when I was over in May, and my expectations rose, because it was a very committed environment, well-driven players, very fit, it was a lot more than I expected,” Phelan told Hill.
Phelan knows Mariners assistant coach, Nick Montgomery, from his days with Sheffield United, and has forged a good relationship already with Head Coach, Mike Mulvey - helped by the fact Mulvey is a boyhood Manchester United fan.
"Mike [Mulvey] and I have talked a lot, and he is very enthusiastic. He seems very appreciative of my involvement, and I'm glad he is willing to take me on board. It's not a short-term project. Given the opportunity, you can create something that can be special - but you need a lot of buy-in,” Phelan told Hill.
"I'm not Sir Alex Ferguson. We worked well together, and what being his assistant taught me was how decisions were made on behalf of players. The reasons why managers make those decisions, which sometimes people find ridiculous. We had our personal disagreements at times, but the beauty of the relationship was he listened. He was always open to suggestion and asked for your opinions.
"When I'm over there I don't want to be picking up the phone all the time, asking for more money - but Mike (Charlesworth) knows that if he wants to go forward, he has to know what to invest in. If he wants to get there, then I don't see why an owner shouldn't listen to the good people around him. You need people who want to have a go," Phelan told Hill.