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Opposite View - Three questions with Cottage Confidential about René Meulensteen

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In this edition of Opposite View we talk about the Philadelphia Union's newest hire with Andrew Beck of Cottage Confidential- SB Nation's Fulham Football Club blog.

Christopher Lee

tBG) Seventy-five days as a manager is short by anyone's standards. What happened at Fulham with Rene Meulensteen that saw him flame out like that?

CC) Something to consider is that Meulensteen was never actually the manager of Fulham. He was hired as the first team coach to work under Martin Jol. If rumors are to be believed, Jol was horrible about running practices and sometimes didn't even show up for them. Meulensteen (at least according to his time at Manchester United) was a genius at running practices and training sessions. When Jol was fired, Meulensteen was never actually made the manager, he kept the title of first team coach. When Magath was hired, Meulensteen was given the opportunity to keep his original spot, but declined that option. I'm not sure Meulensteen really flamed out so much as he was too connected to the old regime. When things really started to get out of hand, Shahid Khan and the people he was putting in place wanted all of their own people in charge.

tBG) There were stories regarding Meulensteen's eccentricities - in one instance asking Brøndby players what kind of animals they were before a UEFA match against Eintracht Frankfurt. Was he like that at Fulham as well? Can we expect that here in Philadelphia?

CC) Nothing really crazy happened with Meulensteen. That was all saved for Magath (treating injuries with cheese for example). However, he is an eccentric individual. He was unwaveringly positive. Even after bad loses he refused to address any negatives with the media and instead focused only on the positives. This rubbed many supporters the wrong way. If you want an example, just look at this interview after Fulham were destroyed 6-0 by Hull City.

tBG) Between his 75 day stint with Fulham and 16 day stint with Anzhi Makhachkala, should Union fans be worried he's going to up and leave in a matter of days?

CC) Here's what I worry about with him. I don't think he's in a position that suits him. From everything ever said about him, his coaching abilities are second to none. He knows how to run a practice. Players rave about his training sessions. He understands tactics and knows how to change them to suit his opponents. For example the way he changed Fulham to face Manchester United last year and secure a result was quite impressive. His failings as a manager seem to be the parts of the job other than coaching. The transfers he made were fairly atrocious in hindsight. Ryan Tunnicliffe has been sent out on loan to another team in the same division, which means no one at the club thinks too highly of him. Larnell Cole hasn't seen the field at all. And the less said about Kostas Mitroglou the better. Then there was the whole issue with him, West Ham, and Ravel Morrison. All of that said, that seemed to make him a great fit as an MLS coach. MLS is different than other leagues. The manager has much less say over player acquisition. The job is much more about coaching and game day tactics than it is about transfer policy. When I heard the Union were interested in him as a manager I thought it was a great fit. However, as a technical director, I'm not so sure. That really doesn't make sense. I have a theory about this, but no evidence to back it up. I would guess that Meulensteen was offered and accepted the manager position sometime during the season with the intent of him taking over the club after the season. However Curtin did enough with the squad to make firing him hard. The backlash would have been pretty great. So they invent a new position for Meulensteen, promise him that any stumble by Curtin will be enough for him to take over the reigns. If Curtin struggles at all next year, I expect Meulensteen to quickly be the manager. If Curtin does well, Meulensteen probably leaves for the first job that comes up.