Man United’s last Premier League title came thanks to Rene Meulensteen, who was interviewed by the Manchester Evening News.
Wednesday, December 13th, 2012 As United’s final whistle sounded at the Stadium of Light, the title was all but sealed.
Wayne Rooney scored the sole goal of the game against Sunderland that afternoon, and Sir Alex Ferguson applauded from the touchline as his players stood awkwardly on the pitch. It was a bit weird. The fear and apprehension had gotten the better of me.
First-team coach Rene Meulensteen headed down the tunnel as United awaited news from the Etihad Stadium. Simon Wells, Manchester United’s video analyst, was watching the Man United match.
In 2020, our Rene Meulensteen interview will provide light on why Manchester United failed after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Asked by the Manchester Evening News, “I wanted to see what was actually going on,” Meulensteen said, over a cup of coffee in Wilmslow. When Simon exited the room, everyone gasped. I could see his brow furrowed. “They simply f***** scored,” he said.
Sergio Aguero’s goal is 10 years old in two months, but Meulensteen still can’t put into words how it felt. That disappointment was poisonous, but Ferguson knew he had to use it in his favor.
Meulensteen recalls that after the game, everyone went back to the dressing room and Ferguson gave his speech. “It was excellent, especially for the small children, given the circumstances. Just remember this, remember how it feels,’ he told them.
As a reminder of how it feels to be so close and then have it torn from your hands, “I want you to remember.”
The players weren’t the only ones who had lost everything. Pre-season brought back hunger in the eyes of the players, Meulensteen revealed, after the team had gone on vacation in a bad attitude. They were motivated by retribution.
‘Let’s take a break and come back and demolish them,’ was the thinking. From the start, Meulensteen said.
Meanwhile, in North London, rumours spread that last year’s Premier League Golden Boot winner Robin van Persie, who just scored 30 goals, wasn’t planning to stay at Arsenal for the coming campaign.
“We heard there was just one club and one manager he wanted to play for if he was going to stay in England,” Meulensteen stated.
Ferguson was well aware that he needed to take action in response to the facts. Before the season’s first game against Everton, Manchester United made an offer and the deal was completed three days later. When Van Persie was 29, he signed a £24 million deal to leave Arsenal and join United.
Manchester United manager Meulensteen said the reason Robin wanted to join the club was because he was “desperate” to win the league. “At the start of the season,” he said. Because there were only two available squad numbers, Ferguson explained to Robin that he needed one of them.
The 20th championship would be a nice bonus for him, so I responded as I stood there: “Well, that’s easy.”
Van Persie opened the scoring in United’s 3-2 victory over Fulham on his Old Trafford debut, and he went on to record a hat trick against Southampton, scoring two of his goals in the final five minutes of the game.
It was Meulensteen who revealed that Van Persie had made a tremendous impression in training since the minute he arrived at Carrington, and he wanted to ‘pick his brains’ to learn more about Arsenal.
Well, what were you doing at Arsenal? I used to ask him about that.” Is it comparable to what I’m looking for? Meulensteen noted that “clearly” at Arsenal, Wenger was still doing a large number of training sessions.
As a player at United, I was just doing it, and Ferguson was on the sidelines. All of those things made him realize how very much better this was in terms of quality and immersion, and how much more true to life it felt.
To paraphrase: “He said that the main information that’s supplied regarding how we’re going to win games and analysis on the opposition is different.”
However, despite the fact that Van Persie made an immediate impact at United, scoring five goals in his first five games, Meulensteen recognized the necessity of developing a relationship between the middle and the rest of the United squad during training sessions at Carrington.
Mauricio Meulensteen said he had to “very quickly develop a wide relationship” between our midfielders and Robin.
His runs were precisely timed, as befitted his sniper training,” she said. Unless you pick that window, you’re going to miss out on a tiny window. As a result, I felt the need to inform those midfielders that this was the relationship between Fabregas and Van Persie, as well as Arteta.
“We’d show them video,” he says. There is no need to notify Scholes about this, but if you’re in a position where you need to spot his runs, I’d advise you to take a look at this, like Michael Carrick or Anderson, for example.
The “click” that we were looking for occurred soon after I devised a number of sessions around it.
Purpose, difficulty, quality, intensity and enjoyment were all considered in Meulensteen’s training sessions. In our coffee shop conversation, he spoke with great passion and was visibly proud when he said that he had never had a player complain about his sessions.
That was the “greatest accolade” he received while at the club, he said, and he also disclosed that the majority of players at United would stay back every day for extra training. Secondary shooting drills were overseen by Meulensteen throughout practice.
By the time Manchester United overcame Reading 4-3 on December 1, they had been involved in four 3-2 victories. Despite Robin van Persie’s 10th goal of the season in that game, United were struggling to win games like they had under Ferguson in the past.
While they were giving up more goals than normal, they were outscoring their opponents. As Meulensteen recalls, “We were conceding goals, but we were still winning”. The significance of a clean slate was among Ferguson’s tenets.”
“We were proud of our record of not conceding, but we also knew that we wanted to play a more attacking brand of football. It’s possible we were open and cavalier at times.”
thank them for their trust. It was a strategy that clearly yielded positive results.
First-team coach Meulensteen forged a close relationship with his players and said they enjoyed the one-on-one input he gave them. He served as the intermediary. Before they reached Ferguson, any tactical issues could be resolved.
The 2012/13 season was a breeze for United, as they came into the Manchester derby three points ahead of Roberto Mancini’s team. At the Etihad, United were ravenous and ready to lay down the gauntlet.
Yaya Toure scored a second-half equalizer to cut United’s lead to one goal at halftime, but it was too little, too late for United. Man City drew level with four minutes remaining thanks to Carlos Tevez’s late goal.
While “we were the better team,” says Meulensteen “we allowed them to come back into the game.”
A free-kick in the final minute of the match gave United the chance to reclaim the lead from City, who had earlier equalized.
‘If there’s any truth to the idea of karma or the universe conspiring to help us win the league,’ I tell myself as Robin lines up for the free kick. He had our full support, Meulensteen added.
For us, it was monumental when that f****** ball went in to win the derby 3-2 on the road. For Robin, it was equally significant. United’s win at the Etihad Stadium stretched their lead in the Premier League to six points.
Meulensteen emphasized that there was no complacency. No one could have been complacent because of the amount of experience we had as a group, especially in light of what transpired the previous season.
During a run of 18 games in the Premier League between November and the beginning of April in which United went undefeated, United won the Manchester derby game. The momentum was with them.
This incredible sequence of results included a derby win over Liverpool at Old Trafford in January, but the most thrilling encounter occurred on Boxing Day 2012, when United defeated Newcastle 4-3 at Old Trafford thanks to a late Javier Hernandez goal.
I had to admit that Chicharito had my whole attention from the time he walked through the door,” Meulensteen stated. You couldn’t help but notice how energetic this boy from Mexico was. He had the courage of a lion, despite his little stature, and he was unfazed by the prospect of playing for United. He was savoring every moment of the experience.
For him, his function and position were clear. We knew that if he had to come from the bench, he was going to be a real issue.
To show the manager that he could count on him when the time came, he had to have a strong sense of self-assurance.
Ferguson had United on a roll until an opportunity presented itself. As a result of City’s three consecutive draws (against QPR, Liverpool, and Southampton), United had a golden opportunity to create some distance between themselves and their rivals.
Sir Alex Ferguson fielded a full-strength Manchester United team for the next game against Everton, despite the fact that they were scheduled to face Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16 just three days later. In Madrid, the Red Devils were 2-0 winners over Everton and drew 1-1 with them.
Despite United’s 12-point lead at the top and Danny Welbeck’s goal in the first leg against Madrid, the second leg at Old Trafford was marred by controversy when Nani was sent off for a questionable foul.
As Meulensteen put it, “I’ve never seen the stadium in shock like that.” I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.” Ferguson erupted in rage when he saw the fourth official. He was enraged, made so by the knowledge that this was his final chance.
In that match, United was knocked out of the Champions League after losing 2-1 to Real Madrid at Old Trafford. Although Ferguson was furious with the red card that cost his team a point and would not speak to the media following the defeat, United’s 12-point lead at the top of the league quickly provided some solace for the Scot.
Problem: Van Persie had stopped scoring (United were still scoring without him, though).
“I sat him down since he was going through a dry spell. Meulensteen explains, “I made a movie with Simon in which we showed all of Simon’s goals and missed opportunities.
When he started out, he wasn’t searching for goals, he was seeking for opportunities, and the results of those opportunities became objectives.” He was now on the prowl for objectives, but they weren’t showing up. It was my opinion that you should re-press the reset button as quickly as possible without giving it any thought.
You know against Stoke, he scored the penalty and he came racing over.” “Wow, it was fantastic.”
After Van Persie’s goal at Stoke, United were Premier League champions two games later when they beat Aston Villa 3-0 at Old Trafford. Van Persie scored a hat-trick in a game that defined the season for many, with his priceless brilliance.
#OnThisDay in 2013…🔴🏆
Manchester United secured their last Premier League title to date, with Robin van Persie hitting a sensational hat-trick against Aston Villa – including a strike that Sir Alex Ferguson labelled as the Goal of the Century! 💥🎯 pic.twitter.com/yHw2wxhOxF
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 22, 2020
A stunning volley from the edge of the box from Robin van Persie put the Old Rraffird in disarray, but Meulensteen was ecstatic about his own goal. They’d been working on it at Carrington just days previously with Van Persie and Rooney.
To illustrate, Meulensteen began drawing the exercise by saying, “We noticed a pattern in the behavior of their central defenders,” before picking up a pen. “That’s when everything came together in one move and one finish for the entire season.” It was wonderful.
“It was clear that everyone in the stadium was having a good time, with the players interacting with the fans. Ferguson enjoyed it, and the interview he gave afterwards was fantastic.” In light of the fact that we had previously lost it on the final day the year before.
United won the Premier League on that day, four games into the season, after losing the title game the season before by a goal. On the final home game of the season, Old Trafford was a sea of red and emotion as the trophy was raised.
Premier League champions Manchester United once again “After that, I had a big party with a lot of my Man United-supporting pals.” They had a great time, and Meulensteen was glad to be there with them.
“The major procession, on the other hand, was absolutely incredible. Unbelievable. It had taken over Manchester. It was an amazing experience.
It could be a long time until United starts winning large trophies if they don’t start enjoying their modest victories, as I told former United CEO David Gill.
“It was the best period I’ve had, especially working so closely with Sir Alex Ferguson,” Meulensteen said. We had high standards, yet those standards didn’t cause us any stress or concern.”
“It all sprang from the manager’s daily routine and his man-management abilities,” he said. For me, “the number of laughs we had and the fun we had together – it was absolutely incredible,” I often tell the guys.
Meulensteen left United in 2013, and the team has changed dramatically since then. After this season, they’ll have gone 40 years without a title, and Meulensteen said the Glazers took Ferguson’s success for granted.
Meulensteen added that “from an owner’s perspective, United have been exported as a brand, which is excellent, but now the success isn’t there.” “They’re still a big name, but what good are they if they don’t win?” “It’s not Man United.”
Sunday’s Manchester derby might cast a spotlight on Manchester United’s deterioration due to the wide disparity in quality between the two teams.
Meulensteen is correct in his assessment of United supporters. Success hasn’t been a problem for Man United.