David Moyes stands by Mike Phelan decision ahead of reunion
Former Manchester United manager faces the long-time assistant he dispensed with
David Moyes’ Sunderland face Hull City this weekend. Photograph: Getty Images
One of Moyes’ first decisions on replacing Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford during the summer of 2013 was to dispense with the services of assistant manager Phelan.
However, Moyes is adamant all he did was make room for his own staff after inheriting his predecessor’s for what proved to be a brief and ill-fated spell at United.
The Sunderland boss said: “It was tough because I understand how important [Phelan had been] and the good work he had done. But I also had to make a decision.
“I went with my own team, just like maybe Louis van Gaal went with his team or Jose Mourinho took his team. They were the decisions you had to make and I made that decision.
“But Mick’s a good guy. I have known Mick a long time.”
The two men will be in direct competition as Phelan’s Hull make the short trip to the Stadium of Light on Saturday to face Moyes’ Black Cats, who are desperate to build upon their first Premier League win of the season last time out at Bournemouth.
There was a rare three points too for the Tigers that weekend, but the teams meet occupying 20th and 18th places in the table with Hull’s promising start despite Steve Bruce’s departure as manager having given way to significant difficulty.
Moyes said: “At the start, you have to to say Hull looked as if they were in a difficult position, but sometimes adversity is the best thing that can happen.
“Steve leaves, Mick takes over, not many players and they have done great. They picked up some brilliant results at the start of the season and they had another great result last weekend, so he’s done a good job, Mick. He’s done well.”
Moyes’ hopes of belatedly establishing momentum have been dented by the news that skipper Lee Cattermole will be sidelined for four months after undergoing hip cartilage surgery in America.
However, there was encouragement from youngster Duncan Watmore earlier this week when he scored a sensational goal for England’s Under-21s.
Moyes said: “Goals have got to become part of Duncan’s game, goals and creating goals. He is a threat, he puts the opposition on the back foot.
“His effort and his work for the team have been colossal for us at the moment, whether it be going forward or helping us out defensively when needed. But getting goals is what we really want him to do.”