Phelan: Room for improvement
Assistant manager Mike Phelan insists Manchester United must do better in the UEFA Champions League this season.
The Reds missed out on the knockout stages of Europe’s premier competition for the first time since 2005/2006 after losing to Basel in the final group game last year. With the draw for the 2012/13 group stages providing Braga, Galatasaray and Cluj as the opposition, Phelan is aware of the need to avoid a repeat performance.
“Europe’s always big at this football club,” he told ManUtd.com. “The traditions are set within the European boundaries for Manchester United and we know we have to do better. “We let Europe slip from our grasp too easily last year. The players are conscious and aware of that, although we haven’t dwelled on it as that wouldn’t be positive. We’ve put it down as a blip, but we know we have to do better.”
Phelan says there are other lessons to be learned from last season as the Reds missed out on any silverware in agonising fashion on the final day of the campaign.
“You learn it’s a team game, even though individuals change matches,” suggested Phelan. “Everybody has to be fully focused for the entire match – from first to last whistle. I think we also know that we need to score plenty of goals. The old days of being able to win the league by grinding out 1-0 victories is gone. In this league now, every goal counts so we want to create more chances and score more goals. We also have to defend well as a unit. All those elements are very important.”