Phelan hails Dyche’s remarkable effort

Split loyalties: Michael Phelan began his career with Burnley but spent almost 20 years at Old Trafford
Split loyalties: Michael Phelan began his career with Burnley but spent almost 20 years at Old Trafford

Former Claret Michael Phelan admits it is a “remarkable” achievement for Burnley to be back in the Premier League.

But he will have split loyalties tomorrow when Manchester United come to town.

Phelan, born in Burnley, hails from Barrowford, and began his career at his hometown club as an associated schoolboy in 1979, going on to make 168 appearances for the Clarets before a a £60,000 switch to Norwich City in 1985.

Four years later he moved to Old Trafford for £750,000, where he won his one England cap, the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Phelan left in 1994 for West Brom, but returned to United in 1999, where he went from the Centre of Excellence to first-team coach, to assistant manager.

He was Sir Alex Ferguson’s number two five years ago when United lost 1-0 at Turf Moor to Robbie Blake’s thumping volley, and he expressed his delight in seeing Burnley back in the big time.

“The success story of Burnley’s been fantastic,” he said.

“To actually get into the Premier League at Sean (Dyche)’s first attempt really, and with the players that he had at his disposal - the squad he had at his disposal - was remarkable.

“They should enjoy every moment of it because the games are magnificent, the stadium’s full, the town wants it, they’re all up for it.

“What better than to have Manchester United coming to town, third game of the season.

“And they beat them the last time they were in the Premier League in the first home game of the season!”

Phelan anticipates a tough task to stay in the Premier League, however, and asked about the difference between the Championship, he admitted: “The gap is huge.

“Everything moves forward and you’ve got to improve all the time.

“These players that are playing for Burnley now, probably some of them never dreamed of playing in the Premier League.

“Some of them have been guys who have come from the lower leagues through, so it’s a dream for them.

“They should enjoy every minute of it and perform as well as they can in this marathon of the Premier League.”