United go into their Carling Cup semi-final against City trailing 2-1. But Phelan saw encouraging signs despite the defeat, and is confident the Reds can emerge from next week's return successful. He said: "We want to keep some consistency in our game. At City there were signs that Manchester United are on the way forward. If we can stick the ball in the back of the net we are in business.
"It will be intense next week. It should be intense. We are at home. Our supporters will want that. We should be okay as long as we have a fully fit team.
"The players are disappointed and that is a good sign. They should be disappointed because they know they could have come away from the game with more than a 2-1 defeat.
"People keep saying the Carling Cup is not on anyone's priority list. But it is a cup game. When you get to the semi-final of a cup you want to get to the final. Both clubs are desperate for that.
"We have been in many and we want to taste another. It is all to play for. We are pleased we put on a performance. We didn't score the goals that we wanted to. But all being well we can do the right thing on the night next week."
United, of course, will have to keep two-goal match winner Carlos Tevez quiet at Old Trafford to have a chance of getting past the Blues.
"Carlos is a Manchester City player. That is what he does. He is paid to score goals," added Phelan.
"I don't think Carlos did anything that people don't know that he does do on a regular basis. That is his game. We were ready for that. He does his job at the club he is at at the moment and we do ours.
"It was Tevez's moment. You have to accept that. Carlos is Carlos. He has done his bit for the Reds. Now he has to do his bit for the Blues. We have to make sure he doesn't do it again in the second leg." What do you think? Have your say.