Manchester United have set aside £100million to land their two top targets Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane this summer, but the hire of Eric Ramsay could turn out to be just as important.
In a move that has quite possibly gone under the radar, Man United completed the capture of the highly-rated coach from rivals Chelsea in July.
To the usually transfer-addicted football fans, seeing a coach leave one Premier League side to join another is not worthy of such attention.
But when a club makes a point of poaching a member of coaching staff, with the other club resigned to losing them, there is usually more to it than what meets the eye.
Hiring Ramsey was not simply a case of adding another member to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s — it points to a deliberate plan to make a marginal but crucial improvements.
Eric Ramsay speaks to Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ( Image:
Manchester United via Getty Imag) The same could be said when Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp went all out to find a coach who could improve their tactics from throw-ins. In the era of modern football, being the best in every area is pivotal.
Solskjaer and his team have been hard at work during pre-season and, even before that, to identify areas of improvement after finishing second in the Premier League last season.
Bringing in Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane will add world-class quality to their ranks. But Ramsey brings a new level of expertise to the setup at Old Trafford.
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The making of Eric Ramsay SHREWSBURY, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 27: Eric Ramsay the Academy Manager of Shrewsbury Town who is assisting with first team management during the Sky Bet League One match between Shrewsbury Town and Plymouth Argyle at New Meadow on November 27, 2018 in Shrewsbury, United Kingdom. (Photo by James Baylis – AMA/Getty Images) ( Image:
AMA/Getty Images) It is remarkable that given his tender age, 29-year-old Ramsay is held in such high regard in the football game already.
He has worked his way up the football period, starting out at League One outfit Shrewsbury Town’s academy before being promoted to work within the first-team setup.
In 2019 Ramsay joined Chelsea, working with their Under-23 development squad after making a name for himself at Shrewsbury.
Shortly afterwards, he became the youngest Briton to pass the UEFA Pro Licence qualification at just 27, which is required to coach in the Premier League.
It is somewhat surprising that Ramsay never made the grade as part of the Blues’ first-team network, although his individual sessions would have certainly helped players such as Marc Guehi hone their defensive skills.
And in July, Solskjaer decided to take the advice of first-team coach Kieran McKenna, who studied sports science alongside Ramsay at Loughborough University, in adding him to his backroom staff.
What they said Milton Keynes, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 24: Sam Ricketts the head coach / manager of Shrewsbury Town during the Sky Bet League One match between Milton Keynes Dons and Shrewsbury Town at Stadium MK on November 22, 2020 in Milton Keynes, United Kingdom. (Photo by James Baylis – AMA/Getty Images) ( Image:
AMA/Getty Images) One man who has worked very closely with Ramsay during his career is former Bolton Wanderers and Hull City defender Sam Ricketts.
He studied with Ramsay for his UEFA Pro Licence with the Welsh Football Association three years ago and the pair ended up joining Shrewsbury at the same time.
When quizzed about what he can bring to Manchester United, Ricketts could not help but heap praise on his fellow coach.
“He’s a clear thinker, he’s got a good tactical brain and a real level of detail in what he does,” Ricketts told The Telegraph.
“That is why he went on first to Chelsea from Shrewsbury and now finds himself at Man United.
“His personality is the big thing. He’s a people person. He’s a very rounded individual who won’t be fazed by anything but who will be very attentive and detail-driven in everything he does.
“It’s not just the sessions you plan – it’s how you conduct yourself, how you drive them with your tone of voice and manner, and that’s what he does really well.
“He’s got a good coaching manner and the personality to engage with players.”
He also received some glowing praise from former boss Neil Bath, head of youth development at Chelsea, for his “skillset” and “incredible experience” when he linked up with the Blues.
Losing him to their rivals will be a blow to the west London club and it remains to be seen whether they can find another candidate with such expertise in his area.
His coaching philosophy BAGSHOT, ENGLAND – JULY 22: Manchester United Head Coach / Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks on with Coach Eric Ramsay during a pre-season training session at Pennyhill Park on July 22, 2021 in Bagshot, England. (Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images) ( Image:
Manchester United via Getty Images) Ramsay’s coaching ideals stem from his years studying for his UEFA Pro Licence earlier in his career, focusing on a possession-based plan that starts with passing out from the back.
With this in mind, it is clear to see why Solskjaer, who wants his side to play more expansively, has recruited the highly-rated coach.
Limiting his knowledge to one area of football does Ramsay a disservice. He places an emphasis on playing slick, high-tempo football in tight areas and overloading when piling forward.
Out of possession, Ramsay encourages the players he works with to attempt to retrieve the ball as quickly as possible, rather than dropping back.
Put simply, his style is derivative of Pep Guardiola, whose famous ‘five-second retention rule’ has been copied and pasted into many coaches’ textbooks.
Ramsay is detail-orientated, methodical and persistent as shown by his rapid rise to the top of his profession — and Manchester United will be hoping he can positively affect their fortunes this season.
Why Solskjaer hired him The defensive pairing could not stop West Brom scoring after 83 seconds, making it just 14 clean sheets in 37 games this season ( Image:
NICK POTTS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) It is rare to see managers go beyond the pleasant praise of their coaching hires, but Solskjaer was clearly delighted to have pulled off a coup in landing Ramsay.
Given the Norwegian’s understanding of the club’s stature, his appreciation of the coach’s talents was probably enough to convince him to make the move to Manchester.
Speaking in July, Solskjaer said: “We’ve been fortunate enough to convince Eric Ramsay to come and join the best club in the world and in the country.
“He’s a very highly-rated coach who is going to be working with individuals and in charge of set-plays as well.
“We’re excited. He’s young, fresh and with new ideas, an innovative coach we know from before. Kieran [McKenna] knows him really well from Loughborough, so we’re very pleased with that.”
By definition, the Welshman is a set-piece and individual development coach at Manchester United, working with the first-team.
In short, he will be tasked with trying to help the team to limit the number of goals they concede from set-piece situations and working with individual players to improve.
It’s certainly something Man United need to work on, having conceded a league-high total of 22 goals from set-piece situations last season.
But as is often forgotten when it comes to set-pieces, Ramsay will no doubt have a number of attacking plans other than lumping the ball up towards Harry Maguire.
By bringing in a specialist in Ramsay, Solskjaer is leaving no stone unturned in an attempt to find some extra improvement.