RONALDO: The coaches who created the greatest

We look at Mike Phelan and Rene Muelensteen's content on The Coaching Manual - two men who were instrumental in developing Cristiano Ronaldo.

Aug 31st 2021

Written by The Coaching Manual

When we say that The Coaching Manual features content from some of the biggest names in coaching, we mean it. 

You may have heard that earlier today, Manchester United confirmed that five-time Ballon D'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo will rejoin the club. Here, we hear from two of the most influential coaches in Ronaldo's career - and friends of TCM - Mike Phelan and René Meulensteen.

What was Ronaldo like in training? What problems did he face? How did his coaches help him overcome those problems and achieve his goals? How did Ronaldo go from talented teenager to best in the world? We take a look at some insightful interviews and training session content currently available with a Premium subscription to The Coaching Manual.

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Manchester United Assistant Manager Mike Phelan was First Team Coach when Ronaldo first joined in 2003. He was part of the coaching team that oversaw the young CR7's transformation from gangly teen to the planet's best footballer. Last year, Mike hosted a webinar with The Coaching Manual and discussed his time with the mercurial number 7.

Mike said: “I always felt that for coaches - not just myself - around Cristiano Ronaldo, he was like a sponge. He wanted more, he’d challenge you for more.

“There are certain things that you observed from Cristiano playing at Real Madrid that he definitely picked up at Manchester United. There’s a satisfaction there. I don’t claim to have created Cristiano Ronaldo, because there is a lot of people who influenced Cristiano.

"The biggest influence he has had has been himself, and his drive. He’s been fantastic - and of course there’s other players as well.”
Watch the full webinar here.


René Meulensteen was instrumental in helping Ronaldo make the step from very good to great, during his last two year at Manchester United from 2007-2009. He advised Ronaldo to set ambitious goalscoring targets and helped him achieve them.

René said: "With Mick [Phelan] and Carlos [Queiroz] we set about the process of making him aware of his position and making him understand what to do in different positions. We worked on finishing from different angles. I had a format where I split the penalty area into zones and you think about what to do in each of the different zones - lace kick, chip, inside foot, one touch or two, move into a different zone and so on."

René recorded a full Masterclass session with The Coaching Manual, which is available here. He discusses the session in depth with TCM's Paul Bright in an extensive interview here.

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