Former Man Utd coach Meulensteen reveals how he helped take Ronaldo to next level

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The Dutchman has said the attacker wasn't productive enough early in his career, but eventually he would become one of the world's best

Former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen has explained how setting goals helped take a young Cristiano Ronaldo to the next level in his career. 

Ronaldo arrived at United in 2003 at age 18, and instantly became one of the club's most exciting young talents. 

The Portuguese, however, took some time to develop into the deadly goal-scorer he would eventually become, as he would not hit double-digit league goals until the 2006-07 campaign. 

Meulensteen got the chance to work with Ronaldo in 2007, when he was named a first-team coach under manager Sir Alex Ferguson. 

The Dutchman explained that an early-season red card for Ronaldo in 2007-08 allowed him the chance to work closely with the young attacker. 

"Cristiano Ronaldo was someone I got to spend plenty of time with at the start of the 2007-08 season," Meulensteen said in The Coaches' Voice.

"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."

Meulensteen saw plenty of potential in the Portuguese, but believed that he could improve his efficiency by encouraging him to set goals for himself. 

"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 said. "I knew that was what he wanted too.

"My aim was to bring him from awareness to understanding. To recognise 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.

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"He was very receptive to anything that he knew could bring him closer to what he wanted."

Ronaldo would go on to score 31 Premier League goals in the 2007-08 season, earning himself a move to Real Madrid in 2009. 

In the Spanish capital Ronaldo would become Madrid's all-time top scorer, netting an incredible 451 times over nine seasons before moving to Juventus in 2018. 

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