Fulham: When Ex-Manchester United Coach Rene Meulensteen Picked An Elephant To Play For Brondby
FULHAM’s new Head Coach, Rene Meulensteen gets a mention in Per Nielsen’s autobiography 4 Per Nielsen – Brøndby for evigt?. Rene coachjed Per at Danish club Brøndby IF.
Meulensteen immediately changed the daily routines around the squad. At first, a lot of small things like when the club had to train and when they had to leave for matches. Later he decided to change the colour of the hallway leading to the team’s locker room at the stadium from yellow (which is Brøndby’s shirt colour) to green. This was intended to give the player’s hope and calm them down when they went from the pitch to the locker room after the first half. He explained to the squad that since they were excited after the first half they needed to calm down a bit. Nielsen, and the rest of the squad, were wondering why this was important because they needed to be ready and excited for the second half a moment later anyway.
It gets even better, as :
Nielsen also spoke about training sessions where the players were juggling with the ball and Meulensteen would suddenly would jump in front of them and yell “BOOOH” in their faces. This was meant to prepare them for the noise there would be at the stadium when they played in front of 10.000-15.000 people, he explained to them…
Brøndby was facing Frankfurt in the UEFA Cup. Before the match started, Meulensteen gathered the players in the locker room together in front of a white blackboard. He then started pointing at the players and made them tell what kind of animal they wanted to be on the field. The players found this very weird and no one answered. As the captain Nielsen felt like he had to step up, and says he wants to be a snake. Meulensteen then replies:
RM: “No no, Per, goddammit. That won’t work. Snakes are slow animals, we cannot have snakes in our defense, the Germans will outrun us then.”
PN: “Then I’m a tiger. Is that okay?”
RM: “That’s perfect! Tigers are brave, fast and strong. That is exactly what we need from a captain.”
After this, the other players responded and Meulensteen then drew the starting lineup containing a tiger, a fox, an elephant, a giraffe and a lot of other animals.
RM: “That’s great, boys. We are smart, fast and clever animals on the field today. We cannot lose today.”
PN (thinking): “We are sending an entire zoo on the field today.”
Brøndby lost the match, 4-0, and got two red cards. One of Meulensteen’s Englishmen (Mark Howard) got one of them after headbutting a Frankfurt player. The leftback Thomas Rasmussen afterwards told the press that he thinks Howard is a clown for letting the team down with his red card.
One question: Was the elephant in goal?
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