A man who first came to Manchester United a decade ago is without doubt one of the secrets behind the success that Sir Alex Ferguson and his coaching staff have brought to the club. Apart from a short six month spell as manager of Denmark’s Brondby in 2006, first team coach Rene Meulensteen has been working with Sir Alex ever since. The 46 year old Dutchman has had a big influence in developing the talent at Old Trafford – from 9 year old kids right through to the first team, and has little doubt what makes club the envy of so many others.
As Meulensteen told ManUtd.com’s Steve Bartram “Every club has a blueprint, an identity, and United’s is very strong” he explains “United stands for attacking, attractive football played at high speed with one touch passing combinations, individual skill and unpredictability. That’s all conducted at pace, with intent.”
“The good thing about this club is that, with the manager and the staff, there’s a massive loyalty to all the players,” says the Dutchman. “We bring them to the club because we know they can perform for us. So if they do have a difficult spell, they can fall back on us. That’s where we need to work harder to get them back to where they should be. That works and players feel that.
“You can rely on the people here, the people you’re training with, the staff, the manager and you all aim for the one thing – the best possible performance and results, and ultimately silverware.”
The master coach cites Dimitar Berbatov as an example saying that “Berba sees the art and beauty of bringing a ball down from 30 yards, then flicking it through for a team mate with a back heel. It’s an artistic approach which gives colour to the game and makes him colourful. He’s a vital ingredient to what the team is trying to achieve.”
Meulensteen revealed that he once took the Bulgarian aside at training telling him to “think of himself as the best musician in the world, and as a team that we’re the best orchestra in the world. Everyone is playing the same tune – and Berba is elevating the whole performance, that’s why you are seeing beautiful things” he said “I want to see him with a medal around his neck and the biggest grin on his face at the end of the season so he can look back and know that he’s really contributed so much to such a massive achievement.”
While the quiet man in the background does his best work behind the scenes, the Dutchman has played a pivotal role in what United has achieved during the last decade.
Is the importance of coaching staff often underestimated?