Damning findings slam United

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Manchester United assistant boss Mike Phelan has been branded as unimpressive and unreliable by a Football Association disciplinary panel.

Phelan gave evidence to the panel earlier this month in a case that saw left-back Patrice Evra handed a four-match ban for his part in a post-match brawl with Chelsea groundstaff including Sam Bethell at Stamford Bridge last spring.

In his case notes, panel chairman Nicholas Stewart QC outlined major inconsistencies in the two written accounts submitted by Phelan prior to verbally giving evidence, and the panel's findings read: "Even before the hearing we did not feel able to place strong reliance on this evidence. Mike Phelan did not impress us."

The report claimed that if Phelan and then goalkeeping coach Richard Hartis had heard the comments Bethell was alleged to have made, it was implausible no-one else, specifically two black members of the Chelsea groundstaff close to the scene, would not have heard them and reported them.

"Aspects of this evidence raise questions about the reliability of their claims," the report states.

It is a damning verdict, only increased by the assessment of Evra's conduct which is said to be "unnecessary and gratuitously aggressive" as a result of a "far-fetched" view of a confrontation between United fitness coach Tony Strudwick and Jason Griffin, Chelsea's head groundsman.

Evra claimed he was worried for Strudwick's safety and barged into Griffin, who was carrying a pitchfork at the time.

The panel felt Evra's contention was "ridiculous" and the physical intervention that followed "could not be justified".

It was that first attack which started the fracas and led to Evra being banned for such a lengthy period.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2008, All Rights Reserved.

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Premier League
Manchester United
Patrice Evra

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