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Meet Socceroos’ secret weapon for the World Cup: Rene Meulensteen, former Man United assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson, helped Cristiano Ronaldo become a world champion and is now the ace in Graham Arnold’s sleeve
- Dutchman Rene Meulensteen is assistant head coach of the Socceroos
- He was Alex Ferguson’s assistant at Manchester United for six years
- Meulensteen worked very closely with Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford
- He sees similarities between the United mentality and the Socceroos set-up
- Click here for all the latest 2022 World Cup news and updates
As the Socceroos prepare for the World Cup in Qatar in November, fans will be looking for manager Graham Arnold in hopes of seeing success at the highest possible level.
Arnold, in turn, will rely heavily on his assistant coach Dutchman Rene Meulensteen – a man who is highly experienced in his own right.
Rene Meulensteen spent six years as the first-team coach at Manchester United, teaming up with the imperious Sir Alex Ferguson and helping to shape football legend Cristiano Ronaldo into the remarkable player he is today.
Rene Meulensteen (pictured left) spent six years as a first-team coach at Manchester United alongside the imperious Sir Alex Ferguson. Meulensteen spent 11 years at Manchester United, initially as head of the academy but later as Ferguson’s number 2 for six years
Meulensteen (pictured left) has been assistant head coach to Socceroos manager Graham Arnold (pictured right) for four years
Meulensteen spent 11 years at Manchester United, initially as head of the academy but later as Ferguson’s No. 2 for six years.
In the previous role he worked with players including current England stars Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard, but when he joined the Red Devils first team he had a significant effect on Ronaldo.
Fifteen years ago, the pair spent one-on-one sessions developing Ronaldo’s finishing skills, with Meulensteen encouraging the Portuguese superstar to aim less for the perfect target and instead trying to maximize his marksmanship.
The Dutchman told Ronaldo to set himself the goal of improving his score from 23 the previous season to 40 – in the event that he reached 42 in all competitions and the Ballon D’or at the end of that year. World Player of the Year award. campaign.
During his time at Manchester United, Meulensteen worked very closely with Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. He focused on developing Ronaldo’s finishing skills, encouraging the Portuguese superstar to aim less for the perfect target and instead try to maximize his output
Meulensteen left Old Trafford when Ferguson retired, but while there United won the Premier League and Champions League three times, making a name for himself in European football circles.
Arnold was instrumental in the 57-year-old’s decision to join the Australia national team in 2018 and Meulensteen was finally allowed to test himself in the international arena.
“I had done pretty much everything at club level and apart from my time with the Qatar Football Association in a younger age group, I always wanted to do something with a national team. Maybe go to the Olympic Games or to a big tournament like the World Cup,” Meulensteen said in the podcast Voetbal Van A tot Z.
“I got to know Graham of course because he came to Manchester United for his professional license and we had a connection, we clicked. I actually showed him all the insiders how we worked at Man Utd and we kept in touch.
Awer Mabil and Socceroos teammates celebrate their side’s victory after a penalty shootout after the 2022 FIFA World Cup Playoff
“He also came by a few times and he reached out and said, ‘It’s just a shot in the dark, but I’m going to do the national team work after the 2018 World Cup, would you do that with me? What do you think?’
“I immediately said it would be great, it was an ambition for me and I think Australia is that exciting country that should always be there or on the verge of qualifying for a World Cup.
“Very quickly I discussed that we should also take the Olympic team because what I knew from Australia I said, ‘We need to add a few things. Do not change. But add.’
Meulensteen says he sees shades of the Old Trafford mentality forged under Ferguson around the current Socceroos lineup.
“The way things are run and the mentality I see remind me of the scenario we had at Manchester United,” SBS told Sport.
Meulensteen pictured with Ferguson in 2008. He says he sees shades of Old Trafford mentality forged under Ferguson around the current Socceroos lineup
‘There is a comparable quality in and around the staff and a comparable approach across the ranks. The atmosphere and level of professionalism bring me back to Old Trafford.”
‘There are clear differences, because you work with a national team instead of a club team.’
The Socceroos have racked up five straight wins and a feel-good factor that the coaching staff have been working on is definitely forming within the squad.
The next time the country sees its national men’s team in action will be at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, when they face reigning champions France at Al Janoub Stadium on November 23.