By Coach Bill D.
FUNdamental Soccer Coach
Looks like you were or are still ahead of the times when it comes to coaching young soccer players. Check-this-out, one of my friends in England sent me the following article on Renee Meulensteen, Manchester United Academy Skills Development Coach. I added a (note) in the middle of the article & thought you would find my note rather interesting to read :
Your Soccer Friend,
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When footballers rise to fame and fortune, those who have helped them along the way rarely get to share the limelight.
It made a refreshing change to hear Manchester United and England midfielder, Tom Clverly, talk about the influence of his youth team coach at Old Trafford, Rene Meulensteen.
The Dutchman, who is Sir Alex Ferguson's first-team coach, joined United as academy skills development coach in 2001.
In the club's own words Meulensteen was brought to Carrington to give United's young players the 'armory to out-maneuver any opponent in any given situation'.
Arriving in Manchester, Meulensteen inherited an eleven-year-old named Tom and a nine-year-old named Danny. Today, Messrs Cleverley and Welbeck are now established for club and country.
Meulensteen said: "The players we had at 7, 8 and 9 are coming to the forefront. You can see the players like Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley are skilful, and in the younger age-groups you can see with players like Larnell Cole that they are all comfortable on the ball."
Meulensteen's methods have had a significant effect on the development of many of those who have progressed through the Carrington system.
He added: "You have to understand why the skill element is so important. The top-level shows, for example with Barcelona, that all these players are able to dominate the situation when under pressure."
***Meulensteen went on to stress the importance of skill development: "What I strongly believe in is that you have to create an environment for young kids so that they can become as skillful as they can.
***"That's the first package you give them, which cannot be done without repetition. You need to create a repetitive environment."
***He is also quick to stress that repetition does not mean that practice should be boring. Much of what Meulensteen says is aligned with the principles underpinning The FA's Youth Award courses.
"As a coach you have a challenge to create that environment. In my opinion there are three ways of doing it:
1. You can work with players individually,
2. You can blend it in within group sessions,
3. You blend it in within small-sided or conditioned games."
This has been the exact progression I have used successfully since learning about your '9-Step Practice Routine' back in 1999 :
Meulensteen is in his second spell at Old Trafford. When he left United to join Brondby as manager in 2006, his impact had seen him rise through the academy to lead United's reserve team.
He returned to Carrington in 2007, again joining the academy ranks before progressing to work as Sir Alex Ferguson's assistant with the first team.
His methods always have always remained true to his fundamental principles. Whether he's working with eight-year-olds or the first team, the focus is on individual improvement.