It took all but twenty minutes for the great Wiel Coerver to recognise the potential in Rene Meulensteen.
The famed Dutch coach, who had guided Feyenoord to victory over Tottenham in the 1974 UEFA Cup final, sat in his office at the Qatar FA studying a video sent to him by mail from The Netherlands.
It outlined a new program using Coerver’s own methods on how to train players and it was sent to him by Rene Meulensteen, a 29-year-old part-time player and aspiring coach from the small town of Beugen, The Netherlands.
Perhaps appreciating his audacity, as well as confidence and eye for detail, Coerver offered Meulensteen a job.
In Qatar Meulensteen immediately displayed his skills, applying the Coerver Method with the ideal that ‘skill could not only be inherent but could be passed on in a comprehensive, academic way’. Rene’s analytical view on the game combined with the influence from Coerver has made Rene to be the ideal successor of Coerver and his talent did not go unnoticed.
Rene build a reputation for developing technical players and his journey led him to coaching functions at Al-Ghrafa , Al-Sadd (both Qatar), Brondby (Sweden), Manchester United (England), and all too briefly Anzhi Makhachkala (Russia) and recently he had a short stint at Fulham competing in the English Premier League.
It will come as no surprise his time at Manchester United to be a remarkable experience. The following paragraphs are from an article written by reporter Henry Winters, 2005 while taken a look in the kitchen of Manchester United’s famous Youth Academy where Rene Meulensteen runs his program.
“Laughter is a constant sound at the Academy. Yet there is a serious issue that United want brought into the open, much as it may antagonise other clubs. United want to revolutionise coaching of the Under-9 to Under-11 age-group, focusing more on developing skills in four-v-four games than contesting blood-and-thunder eight-v-eight club skirmishes.”
Rene Meulensteen explains his philosophy:
“Why did Eric Cantona, Pele and Romario make the difference? Why does Ronaldinho? Under pressure, they have the ability to create a better situation. You can be as physically strong as you want, as tactically well-organised as you want, but you can never beat players like Maradona, Cruyff, Best or Zidane. They can unlock defences.
“In the last 15 years, the emphasis has been on physical and tactical development, not conceding goals and getting something from a set-play. That’s not entertainment. We have been relying on God-gifted players – Cruyff, Best, Maradona – and once every five years somebody else pops up.”
“We want players who can do the unpredictable like Rooney,” Meulensteen continued. “I see too many one-dimensional players at the top level. We inspire kids to take players on. In the attacking third, it’s all guns blazing.”
Rene Meulensteen’s view on soccer, and more specific, the importance of skill development within a player is the foundation of our philosophy.
“In the 21st century, when street football has largely disappeared, Kershaw asked Meulensteen to come to Carrington. The Dutchman put on a coaching demonstration for Ferguson and was appointed immediately. “Rene has spells working with Van Nistelrooy, Chris Eagles and Giuseppi Rossi, who all pick at his brains, but his role is development of young boys,” Kershaw said. “He is the best coach in the world for kids.”
“Rene came in,” Kershaw continued, “and said it was not helpful to put Under-9 kids into Premier League 8-a-side football games against other clubs with mums and dads on touchlines shouting ‘get stuck in’. When we played some teams it was like World War Three.
United know kids will always be competitive, so they work on their technique first and are prepared to “isolate” themselves from those clubs sticking to Premier League rules. “In eight v eight, the three biggest kids dominate,” Kershaw said. “So we decided we would go on a four-a-side programme of development that initially revolved virtually solely around technique.”
Above serves as a backdrop for Rene’s current involvement in SportpartnersUSA activities and events. Rene is forcing the leaders in soccer to rethink their training principles and challenges them to work with a larger focus on technical proficiency amongst the youngest of players. All this with the lofty goal in mind giving the players the best possible environment to grow as a player, teammate, and person.