Masterclass Focus: Rene Meulensteen

Rene Meulensteen's Playing Through The Thirds Masterclass is next up in this 'In Focus' series. We look to reveal more about the former Manchester United Assistant Manager whilst showing some of the fantastic feedback we've had off the back of the Masterclass.

Feb 15th 2021

Written by The Coaching Manual

Rene Meulensteen's Playing Through The Thirds Masterclass is next up in this 'In Focus' series. We look to reveal more about the former Manchester United Assistant manager whilst showing some of the fantastic feedback we've had off the back of the Masterclass.

The Coach...

Rene had a short playing career playing semi-professionally and professionally in the Netherlands. His love for coaching started very early at the age of 26 as he became a youth coach at the team he was still playing at, NEC Nijmegen.

After coaching there for three years he retired as a player and went out to Qatar to further his coaching career. He spent time with the Qatar Under 18s national team, Al Ittihad, and Al-Sadd.

However, it wasn’t until 2001 where his career in English football started landing a role in the youth set-up at Manchester United. Rene worked there for the next five years working his way up to a role in the reserve team. Between 2006-2007 Meulensteen spent time as manager at the Danish club Brøndby.

He returned to Manchester United in 2007 and stayed there as assistant coach to Sir Alex Ferguson until 2013. During his time there he helped the club to win 3 Premier League titles, 3 Community Shields, 2 League Cups, one UEFA Champions League, and one FIFA Club World Cup. 

After Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, Meulensteen went on to hold managerial roles at Fulham, Maccabi Haifa, and Anzhi Makhachkala. He currently coaches with the Australian national team as the Assistant Manager.

Watch the recent webinar we did with Meulensteen here, where he talked us through some key themes in his own coaching and provides a recap on his Masterclass session.

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The Session...

Rene’s Playing Through the Thirds Masterclass is made up of four sessions and it begins with a Technical Passing Practice. Players have to play their way up the pitch through a series of passing and setting the ball movements. A very simple but effective way of laying the foundations for playing your way up the pitch.

Next up is a Playing Through the Middle Dynamic Wave Practice, where players have to use similar combinations from the last drill to work their way up to the opposition goal and then show the composer to finish past the goalkeeper.

The penultimate drill is a Playing into Wide Areas Dynamic Wave Practice. Wide players are introduced in order to challenge the players to recognise when to combine through the middle, like before, and when to play out to the wings all with the end goal of scoring past the goalkeeper. Progressions of the drill are encouraged in order to make it more challenging for the attacking team, which include adding in defenders.

Finally, there is a Conditioned Game where Rene coaches the players on how and when to be patient when in the attacking phase to find the spare player whilst also changing the mentality when the opposition starts a counter-attack.

View the full Playing Through The Thirds Masterclass here.

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The Feedback...

"What I love the most about Rene’s session is its adaptability for any age. I have delivered this with 10-year-old academy players and an open-age grassroots team and they both equally loved it - that is the beauty of a good session: its flexibility.” 

Lee Fletcher - Head of Content Development at The Coaching Manual.

“Rene Meulensteen shows his qualities as a coach throughout this session. After working with some of the best players in the world, his level of detail shines through. With the difficult coaching points, Rene makes them look easy and continues to check players’ understanding throughout the session. The most impressive thing about this session is how much the players learnt whilst really enjoying the practice. Sometimes I see sessions with loads of details however the players do not enjoy it.”

Steven Crane - Head of Player Development and Education

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