Manchester United head coach Rene Meulensteen turned down the chance to be David Moyes' assistant manager at Old Trafford because he felt the Scot’s hands-on approach to training would have left him more marginalised than in the role he enjoyed under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Meulensteen, 49, has had a profound effect on the Carrington training ground since taking over as first team coach five years ago and his decision to turn down the No 2 role is a setback in United’s attempt to ensure continuity after Ferguson's retirement.
Meulensteen’s compatriot Robin van Persie credited him with improving the technical component of his game during his own first season at United. United's desire to promote the Dutchman to a role as Moyes' right-hand man reflects that contribution. But Meulensteen is understood to feel that Moyes' far more involved approach to team preparation would create a different landscape than under Ferguson, who left his coaches to get on with the training ground work.
Meulensteen is likely to move back to the Netherlands or the Middle East, where he has a network of contacts from his time in Qatar, running the national under-18s side and several club sides. Having been encouraged to work there by the late Wiel Coerver, the Dutch coach who inspired him.
The composition of Moyes’ backroom team remains unclear, following the decision to sever ties with Ferguson’s assistant Mike Phelan and goalkeeping coach Eric Steele. Chris Woods, who has served Moyes at Goodison Park, is in contention to move to Old Trafford to fill the goalkeeping role vacated by Steele. Jimmy Lumsden, who worked with Moyes at Preston and Everton, is also expected to make the move. Moyes is now away on holiday. He officially takes up his role as United manager on July 1.