Jose Mourinho has been urged to rein in the outbursts at Manchester United and avoid seeking conflict, with Mike Phelan conceding that the Portuguese’s situation is “delicate”.
The Red Devils boss has endured a testing start to his third season at Old Trafford, with a quiet transfer window followed by an inconsistent opening to the 2018-19 Premier League campaign.
Mourinho has cut a frustrated figure over recent months, with the 55-year-old prepared to air his grievances in public.
Reports of strained relationships with key figures such as Ed Woodward and Paul Pogba have also done little to aid his cause, but Phelan feels a confrontational attitude is doing nobody any favours.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s former assistant told Sportsweek on Radio 5 Live: “Any manager of any big institution, which is what Manchester United is, internationally, you have a role and a responsibility to give out the correct messages,” said Phelan, who was a player, coach and assistant manager under Ferguson.
“You don’t have to avoid conflict, but you certainly have to conduct yourself in a way which is befitting of the tradition of where you’re working, and that’s something you can do by keeping your own counsel and getting on with the job.
“But he [Mourinho] is a completely different character and he expresses himself in a completely different way.
“There are opportunities to say things and there are opportunities to keep it to yourself. He chooses one way, and with that there are consequences in what you say.”
Mourinho has also been warned that his fiery attitude at Old Trafford could be playing into the hands of his rivals, especially those across Manchester at reigning champions City.
Phelan added: “There is fierce competition within the city. If United are at loggerheads within the club, it just helps fuel City’s cause more than anything else.
“That’s something they need to be very careful of, because City are a very big club now and they’re very well run.
“They know how to use certain situations, and unrest across the road helps. It can’t not be a help and they use it well.”
While there are clearly issues to be addressed at United, with it being suggested by some that Mourinho could soon be relieved of his managerial duties, Phelan doubts that a proven winner is looking for a way out.
He said: “I don’t think so.
“You’re the manager of Manchester United, why would you want to leave that situation?
“It probably is delicate right now, in terms of his managerial role, but most things are controlled by results. You’ve got to perform well, get the right results and enjoy the time that you’re there.
“Not many people become manager of Manchester United. Sir Alex had it for a long, long time, then a few have come along since to try to emulate him and make them the champions again.
“It’s something you’ve got to embrace, rather than not embrace, because it’s a fabulous time to be at a football club of that magnitude.”