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Man United on Juggling

 Manchester United

Rene Meulensteen is the Skill Development Coach at Manchester United Football Club (was in 2005-2006)
he works with all players throughout the club- from the nine year olds at the academy to the first team.
Before Rene came to Manchester United he was involved in club football in Qatar with trophy’s with Al-
Itihad and Al-Sadd and prior to that was involved in the Qatar National sides. Rene also worked under Wiel
Coerver as a personal assistant and much of his background in technical development was through Wiel
Coerver. Rene was extensively involved in the recent Manchester United skills DVD.

Sean: Hello Rene and thank you for your time.

Rene: That's OK.

Sean: Do you encourage the players you coach at Manchester United to juggle

Rene: Yes we do. The ultimate goal to aim for is that the players have the skills to make a difference when
they play. To have the skills and confidence to take a player on and beat them. They must be able to
dominate the ball before they can dominate another player. Every touch of a football helps and makes a
better player.

Sean: How do you include it in your coaching.

Rene: Well with the younger players it would be very individual. Working alone with the ball making sure
that the player touches the ball as many times as possible. As the players get older then we would include
drills like head tennis. It is good for controlling the ball with all parts of the body helps balance and coordination.

Sean: Who would be the best juggler at the club.

Rene: It is a policy at Manchester United not to name names from the younger players at the academy but I
think Ronaldo would be an obvious choice from the first team.

Sean: A famous phrase often said to anyone juggling is "why do you bother doing that when you cannot do
it on the pitch". How would you answer that one.

Rene: That is a very short sighted thought. You could say that about so many things. In tennis why practice
with a tennis cannon firing the tennis balls at you because in a tennis match the ball will never come at you
the same way twice. Certain things work in support of what happens on the pitch. Juggling helps improve
your feeling for the ball this helps you become more confident. This means when on the pitch you will have
more time and space with the ball. It is all linked together. I think people would say this for two reasons
first they are protecting themselves because they cannot do it and second because they just don't understand
how this skill can transfer over in a game. I don't think you needed me to answer that question. It is

Sean: Good answer though.

Rene: Actually in Holland once during an Ajax game during the Johan Cruyff era. I cannot remember
which game it was but it was a very important game between Ajax and Real Madrid. One of the players
Gerry Mehren had so much time and space because nobody came to tackle him that he just flicked the ball
up and began to juggle. I think he thought well if they don't want to play I will entertain the crowd. It is
often shown on Dutch TV when there is a program about that Ajax team.

Sean: In all the places you have coached football have you ever been anywhere were juggling is given the
same importance as in South America.

Rene: I think you cannot forget the importance of cultural influences. In Brazil it is part of a Brazilian
player to juggle a football. Their culture is that a player must be very skillful and technical. Qatar has had a
massive Brazilian influence since the seventies. But I think kids will respond to their environment. If they
are encouraged to juggle and exposed to coaching were it considered a part of the program then they will
do it and therefore get better. At Manchester United many of the younger players are very skilful and they
are encouraged to express that and so they become more creative and improve. Some cultures are about
work ethic and long passing I am not saying that is wrong but that culture will produce that type of player.

Sean: If you had to list the benefits of juggling what would they be.

Rene: Touch, co-ordination, balance, creativity and confidence.

Sean: Thank you Rene. It has been a pleasure talking to you.

Rene: Thank you.
courtesy of Sean-