The Philadelphia Union's makeover continues.
A week after officially appointing Jim Curtin as head coach, the Union announced Friday that René Meulensteen has joined the club as a consultant. Meulensteen, a former head coach at Fulham and assistant at Manchester United, will advise Philadelphia ownership on all soccer operations.
“We are happy to announce we have engaged Rene Meulensteen’s partner in sports practice to consult with us on many of our key decisions over the next several months, as we look to benefit from his exceptional history of success in both player development and first team performance during his decade of work at Manchester United,” Union chairman/owner Jay Sugarman said in a statement. “René has hit the ground running and I know Nick [Sakiewicz], Jim, Tommy [Wilson] and our team of coaches as well as our academy staff will welcome René’s insights and experience during this important period for the club as much as I do.”
Prior to serving as manager for Fulham FC in the Barclays Premier League during the 2013-14 season, Meulensteen spent more than five seasons as a first-team coach of Manchester United under the tutelage of Sir Alex Ferguson. During that time, Manchester United captured four Barclays Premier League titles, a UEFA Champions League title and a FIFA Club World Cup title.
“I connected with Rene right from the start when a good friend introduced us five months ago. He has experience coaching and developing players at the highest level of soccer and we are thrilled to add his expertise to the Philadelphia Union,” said Sakiewicz, the Union's CEO and operating partner. “We have been closely evaluating our technical structure in order to ensure our long-term overall success. René will be a valuable resource in our continued evolution of the technical operation. René’s work at both the academy and first team levels is world class and we look forward to working with him on all aspects of our soccer operations.”
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Meulensteen’s experience at the academy level includes a highly successful tenure as technical skills coach for Manchester United’s academy from 2001-05. He was later named the club’s reserve coach in 2005-06 for a side that went on to win a treble and featured future stars Tim Howard, Gerard Pique, Giuseppe Rossi and Darron Gibson.
Meulensteen began his coaching career in 1990 when he became a youth coach at NEC Nijmegen in the Netherlands, before leading the Qatar Under-18’s for six years from 1993-99. He then spent a season as manager at both Al-Etehad (now Al-Gharaffa) and Al-Sadd in Qatar, winning the Arab Cup and the Emir Cup, respectively.