Phelan: United victims of own success

Former assistant manager Mike Phelan said Manchester United’s past success has made it easy for people to have a go at them.

A 2-1 defeat to Swansea last week not only marked the Welsh club’s first ever win at Old Trafford but also the first time United lost their opening day at home since 1972-73.

Phelan, who was in Malaysia to be a guest pundit at Astro Supersport, thinks that too much emphasis has been put on the Red Devils breaking unwanted records.

“Those [records] are the things that people and the media look at nowadays and if you go deep enough, you will find all sorts of statistics – like the game against Fulham last season [which United set a new record for crosses in the Premier League],” he told FourFourTwo Malaysia.

“When United have a blip, which they had a lot last season, it is easy for people to compare it to a record because United have had successful records over the years.

“Sir Alex Ferguson did a fantastic job and set the standard very high, but at some point some things are going to change.

“For instance, just because Swansea never beat you does not mean they will never beat you.

“It is difficult to accept it when the team shatter a good record or create an unwanted one, but that’s football.”

Due to the Swansea defeat, United now face a big challenge to win at Sunderland and keep up with the early pacesetters such as Chelsea, who currently top the table after defeating Leicester City at home on Saturday.

However, Phelan believes United can still challenge for the title as long as they put in a brave performance against Sunderland.

“I will never rule anything out because I have been in the game for a long time to know that anything can happen in football.

“If the attitude and mind set are right and the progress is made quickly, United can win anything.

“Fortunately for them, they have only played one game and have over 30 games to go to put things right.

“[However, in saying that] they cannot afford to be too many points adrift so early in the season because that means the team have to put in a great finish in the second half of the season.

“So, it is important for them to go to Sunderland and win the game.”