Mike Phelan gives totally honest answer on Cristiano Ronaldo's Man Utd complaint

Mike Phelan and Cristiano Ronaldo back in their United days
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

Former Manchester United assistant Mike Phelan has agreed that there are 'issues' at the Carrington training centre in response to Cristiano Ronaldo's previous criticisms of the facilities.

Phelan was asked about his feelings on United's training ground on the Ben Heath podcast following Ronaldo's scathing assessment of the complex he made in an interview with Piers Morgan back in 2022. The former United man opened up about the current state of Carrington and admitted that it needs "brightening up".

"There are issues," Phelan admitted. "We all have houses and if we don't paint them regularly enough or we don't do the pointing on the walls then it starts to corrode a little bit so I think there was an element of that. When I came back everything was there, it was just a case of brightening it up and sprucing it up."

ALSO READ: United youngster set for surprise move to Italian club on free transfer

ALSO READ: Unsung hero has just shown how important he is ahead of contract decision

Ronaldo spent six years at United from 2003 and 2009 before returning to Old Trafford 12 years later. Speaking to Piers Morgan in November 2022, shortly before his contract was terminated at United, the forward said: “I don't know what's going on but since Sir Alex Ferguson left I saw no evolution in the club, the progress was zero. Nothing changed. Surprisingly.

"Not only the pool, the jacuzzi, even the gym… Even some points, the technology, the kitchen, the chefs, which is, I appreciate, lovely persons. They stopped in a time, which surprised me a lot."

Phelan acknowledged that Ronaldo's ire could have stemmed from the lofty expectations the former Real Madrid star has, as well as revealing that the opulence and size of current players' houses can have an impact on how they view club training facilities.

"I think Cristiano realised as well, and you have to understand that all these players in the Premier League, they have these facilities at home, it's amazing really," Phelan said.

Phelan and Ronaldo worked together for several years at United
Phelan and Ronaldo worked together for several years at United -Credit:2022 Chris Brunskill/Fantasista

"They have chefs and they have kitchens that cost more than my house. They have saunas, gyms, pools, they have gardens that stretch for three or four acres and they have football pitches in them now. You see all the time on TV, it's amazing, and rightly so if they can afford to do that, so their standard of living is huge and they expect that when they come to work and you have to provide that and get better at that."

The ex-Hull City manager also conceded that United do have to keep up with the standards of a top Premier League club. "I'm not saying it's got to be bigger, bigger and bigger because sometimes small is beautiful you know. But there are expectations now within Premier League football clubs as to what level and standard you have to meet," Phelan added.

"Man United had it all there. Yes they had a few portacabins in the carpark and things like that, but tell me a place that doesn't when you need to grow and grow quickly so it's easier to get a portacabin in the carpark than wait to build something."

Phelan, who left United shortly after Erik ten Hag arrived at Old Trafford, recognised that United need to make some strides when it comes to their amenities and it could be key in order to "attract" stars to the club. He added: "Ultimately you need to maintain high standards in order to attract and make those small improvements and each small improvement becomes a bigger thing in the grand scheme of things doesn't it."

United did refurbish the swimming pool area at Carrington in the summer while new ice baths, steam rooms and jacuzzis were installed, complete with new tiling. However, Sir Dave Brailsford believes the club needs to relocate from the current training complex.

Ineos sporting director Brailsford joined the football board when Sir Jim Ratcliffe's 27.7% minority takeover was sanctioned in February and it's believed he has concluded that Carrington is not fit for purpose. The MEN also reported early this year United were exploring the possibility of moving to a new training base in the near future.