Former Manchester United manager Rene Meulensteen spoke openly about Cristiano Ronaldo’s evolution as a professional player.
There are very few managers who can say they coached Cristiano Ronaldo, but only ones like Rene Meulensteen know how his evolution took a wild turn.
The Dutch manager received a call from Sir Alex Ferguson in 2007, which was right around the time when Ronaldo started exploding as a world-class player.
This is the season in which he truly became the best player in the world, or at least the one who would compete against Lionel Messi over the next decade.
Meulensteen was one of those figures who helped Cristiano Ronaldo achieve this level of performance, he helped him improve several aspects of his game.
The Portuguese forward was going through a phase in which he welcomed all types of constructive criticism about his game, especially the ones that would help him improve in every possible aspect.
The result was that we got the best version of himself during the next two seasons before he moved on to Real Madrid.
Cristiano Ronaldo helped Manchester United reach two consecutive Champions League finals during that period, then he decided to make his transfer to Los Blancos during the summer of 2009.
— United Xtra (@utdxtra) April 22, 2017
Meulensteen explained how this evolution happened when he was one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s right-hand men, he wrote it all on The Coaches’ Voice.
“Cristiano Ronaldo was someone I got to spend plenty of time with at the start of the 2007-08 season,” wrote Rene.
“A red card in the second game of the season meant he was banned for three games, which gave me the perfect opportunity to work on some things with him.”
“I believed he was one of the best forwards at a very young age, but he wasn’t productive enough. We needed him to score more goals,” Meulensteen added.
“I knew that was what he wanted too. My aim was to bring him from awareness to understanding.”
“To recognize how he could get from where he was to where he wanted to be. That was about a few things off the pitch, but a lot of things on it.”
“It was also about the value of setting aims and targets, and explaining to him that people who have a clear goal – and devise a strategy to get there – will be far more successful than those who say ‘I want that’, and then wait and hope for the best.”
“He was very receptive to anything that he knew could bring him closer to what he wanted.”
It certainly worked!
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) April 22, 2017
Ronaldo’s final form didn’t come until Real Madrid.
There is a general misconception that the best Cristiano Ronaldo was the one who played at Manchester United.
The fans loved watching this player dribble and do all kinds of flicks that would receive a standing ovation during a match.
However, Cristiano Ronaldo’s evolution also consists of him realizing that his talents were being wasted playing like this.
It wasn’t until he arrived at Real Madrid when he realized what his true potential was.
It took him a few years but Ronaldo eventually understood that he was actually one of the best goal-scorers in football history, perhaps even the best.
This special talent needed to be exploited and that’s exactly what he did at Real Madrid over the next 9 seasons.
After 450 goals with Los Blancos, we can finally say that we have the final stage of his evolution and he has given us some of the most memorable moments in football history.
But that whole process started with Sir Alex Ferguson and Rene Meulensteen, it happened at the very start of the 2007-08 season at Manchester United.
René Meulensteen: "I taught Cristiano what he needed to do to improve and he took it all on board. No matter what anybody says about him, I have never seen a more devoted professional footballer than Ronaldo. The key is to keep performing to the level he has maintained." pic.twitter.com/TjToMA72Ba
— M•A•J (@Ultra_Suristic) May 10, 2018
What is Cristiano Ronaldo’s most notable difference between the player from 2007 and the one from today? Please share your opinion in the comment section down below.