The man behind Ronaldo's rise, Liverpool's ex-chief physio: Meet Arnold's new team

Graham Arnold has been announced as the Caltex Socceroos' Head Coach for the next four years.

But who will be working alongside Arnold as the 55-year-old begins the defence of Australia's AFC Asian Cup title?

OFFICIAL: Graham Arnold's Caltex Socceroos' coaching staff announced

Here's all you need to know about Graham Arnold's new coaching staff:

RENÉ MEULENSTEEN - Assistant Coach

He's the man responsible for developing a plethora of Manchester United stars past and present.

René Meulensteen helped Manchester United maintain their dominance as England's mightiest club in his role as Sir Alex Ferguson's trusted advisor.

Now, the 54-year-old will be right hand man to Graham Arnold and responsible for nurturing the next stage of evolution for the Australian national team.

With more than 25 years of senior coaching experience around the globe, Meulensteen will add a wealth of knowledge of world football to Graham Arnold’s team.

The Dutch general became recognised on the international stage during a 12-year period at Manchester United, working closely with iconic manager Sir Alex Ferguson during a golden era where the Red Devils became the most successful club in the history of English football.

Rene Meulensteen
Meulensteen was Ferguson's chief lieutenant in the United bosses' latter years.

It was as a youth coach at NEC Nijmegen in his native Netherlands where Meulensteen received his first coaching opportunity. Eight years honing his skills in Qatar followed, working for the national team, Al-Gharafa SC and Al Sadd, before his big break – a move to the bright lights of Manchester.

After coaching in the United youth and reserves team ranks from 2001 to 2006, Meulensteen was recruited to become manager of Danish giants Brøndby IF, the first of six different nations where he has held a managerial role.

He returned to Old Trafford six months later to reunite with Ferguson as assistant coach of United’s senior squad between 2007 and 2013. Meulensteen went straight to work on the development of their talented young first-team players, and played a leading role in Cristiano Ronaldo’s rise to superstardom during his breakout 2007-08 season, as United went on to be crowned UEFA Champions League winners.

Following a domestic trophy haul of three English Premier Leagues, three Community Shields and two League Cups at United, Meulensteen departed the club following Ferguson’s retirement to further his own experience as a head coach.

Meulensteen’s coaching journey next led him to Russian Premier League outfit Anzhi Makhachkala, before a return to the English Premier League in the dugout for Fulham. Further roles at Maccabi Haifa in Israel and Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League brought an even wider understanding of the global game.

Caltex Socceroos connection

Meulensteen has had a small connection with Australian football in the past.

He was briefly assistant coach to former Caltex Socceroos' head coach Guus Hiddink while at Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala.

He's also coached Nikita Rukavytsya at Maccabi Haifa 2016/17, and managed former Hyundai A-League attacker David Williams at Brondby IF in 2006/07.

What will he bring to the Caltex Socceroos?

Meulensteen assumes his position as Graham Arnold's Assistant Coach with a wealth of diverse coaching experience in the game, in a career spanning close to three decades.

Inspired by the footballing philosophy of seminal Dutch coach Wiel Coerver, Meulensteen began a keen interest in coaching while at lower league Dutch club NEC Nijmegan, where he was both a player in the reserves and coach of the youth team.

He possesses a sound knowledge of the AFC Asian Federation following his eight year stint in Qatar during the 1990's, and most recently as the manager of Indian club Kerala Blasters.

Rene Meulensteen
Meulensteen addresses the Manchester United squad at the club's Trafford training centre.

But perhaps Meulensteen's biggest asset to the Caltex Socceroos lies in his celebrated tenure at Manchester United. He's been in the dugout for two UEFA Champions League finals and helped the club claim three Premier League titles while working alongside arguably the game's greatest ever manager.

Meulensteen's talent for nurturing young talent and helping seasoned professionals reach their potential ensured he was held in high regard by Ferguson, as evidenced by his longevity at the club.

"In my first season with the Academy in 2001, he showed a keen interest," Meulensteen wrote in 2017.

"He came up to Littleton Road at least three or four times to see what we were doing. At the end of the season I had a real long chat with him about what I was doing and how I saw things progressing. What we were doing was trying to develop these kids, the Lingards and Rashfords, for 10 years’ time.

"To be a good manager, you need to be a visionary. First, ‘what do I want to achieve?’ Then you devise a strategy, ‘how am I going to put this in place, over the short, medium and long term?’ Then you identify the right people to do it. This is what he did."

Meulensteen's career at Old Trafford began in 2001 and by the time he'd left 12 years later he'd had hand in almost every level of player development. The Dutchman was a skills development coach of the academy and reserve team, a technical coach for individual first-team players and finally employed as a first-team coach.

The list of players Meulensteen has had a hand in nurturing through the ranks include Danny Welbeck, Jesse Lingard, Gerard Pique, Jonny Evans and Marcus Rashford.

He is most famously credited as the man behind Cristiano Ronaldo's stunning 2007/08 Premier League season, after working tirelessly to improve the Portuguese's mentality and approach to shooting at goal.

This should excite Australian football fans, who will want to see the side add sharpness and bite to their play in the final third. The Caltex Socceroos' boast several players - Daniel Arzani, Andrew Nabbout and Dimitri Petratos to name just a few - in this area whose best years are yet to come, and could benefit from the seasoned professionalism of Australia's new assistant coach.


ANDREW CLARK – High Performance Coordinator (Sports Science)

Often credited as the man who helped Sydney FC become the most consistent and fit team during their recent Hyundai A-League dominance, Andrew Clark will once again be Graham Arnold’s right hand man at the Caltex Socceroos.

The soon to be 44-year-old is regarded among Australia’s finest sports science coaches and has enjoyed a lengthy and successful working relationship with Arnold at Central Coast Mariners and the Sky Blues.

A right fullback in his playing days, Clark plied his trade in the top flights of Hong Kong and Malaysia as well as in the NSL and NSW Premier League, before joining hometown club Central Coast Mariners in 2005.

He was swiftly appointed Mariners’ Head of Sport Science and Conditioning Coach, and balanced his role on the field and in the backroom staff until calling time on his playing career in early 2010.

In February of that year, Graham Arnold replaced long-serving Mariners’ boss Lawrie McKinna at the helm of the Gosford club, and Clark retained his integral position as the team’s Head of Sport Science and Conditioning Coach.

Andrew Clark
Clark is often heralded as the man behind Sydney FC's success under Graham Arnold.

This would be the start of a prosperous partnership between Clark and Arnold. Clark accompanied Arnold in Japan when he was announced new coach of J-League side Vegalta Sendai in late 2013, and the pair were quickly reunited at Sydney FC following Arnold’s appointment at the harbour city in May 2014.

An unsung but crucial presence in the dressing room for Sydney FC, Clark’s diverse playing experience combined with his expertise as a sports scientist makes him an extremely valuable resource for players.

“What he brings to me is sanity, balance and clarity," Arnold told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2015.

"If I'm going off my brain, he'll say, 'Arnie, listen to me.' I cannot speak high enough of him. He is one of the best blokes I've ever met in my entire life.

“He's so honest and trustworthy. There's not many people in the world that you can trust like a brother, but he is one. He's such a lovable bloke.”

Clark completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Science (Exercise Science) in 1997 at the University of New South Wales.

10 years later he began his Master’s Degree in Philosophy (Sport Science) at the University of Newcastle, completing it in 2014.

PHIL COLES – High Performance Coordinator (Physiotherapy)

Phil Coles is specialist in performance and medical services who has operated in elite sport for 20 years across the English Premier League, NRL and NBA in the United States.

After completing a degree in Applied Science (Physiotherapy) at the University of Sydney, Coles moved to England 1998 to work as a physio for AFC Bournemouth, before returning home to a role with the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles NRL team in 2000.

While back in Sydney, Coles completed his Masters degree in Sports Physiotherapy and went on to land a role with Football Federation Australia in 2007. Three years later, he was hired by Liverpool as Head of Physical Therapy where he worked under Roy Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish and Brendan Rodgers.

It was back to his homeland to take up the post of Head of Medical Services for the Newcastle Knights in the NRL in 2012. Coles then secured a position in the United States as Director of Performance and Medical Department for the San Antonio Spurs basketball team, where he worked from October 2014 until he was recruited back to FFA as part of Arnold’s staff.

Phil Coles
Phil Coles treating former Caltex Socceroo Tim Cahill in 2010.

DOUG KORS – Senior Technical Analyst

Another of Arnold’s trusted allies at Sydney FC, Doug Kors joins the Caltex Socceroos as the team’s chief analyst.

Kors was appointed Sydney FC’s Head of Football Analysis in late 2014 after a meeting with Arnold about where the club could improve. A 20-minute pitch in the morning impressed the newly-appointed Sky Blues’ coach so much that he was handed the full-time role on spot, and was on the plane to Brisbane for Sydney’s Hyundai A-League clash against the Roar that afternoon.

His position at the Sky Blues involved working closely with Arnold and his staff to produce insights into the team's training, review of matches and analysis of upcoming opponents. Kors also implemented and oversaw a recruitment database and analysis across the club’s National Youth League, Westfield W-League and academy sides.

It was a role Kors held for nearly four years, and helped Sydney establish an unrivalled success in the Hyundai A-League.

Before his tenure at the Sky Blues, Kors was a Performance Analyst at AFL side GWS Giants.