He is Manchester United’s newest secret weapon, and has earned the affection of superstars like Casemiro.
Last year, Eric Ramsay surprised Casemiro at Carrington. Ramsay, a fluent Spanish speaker, greeted Casemiro, who couldn’t speak English.
It’s rare for British coaches to speak another language, but those who have worked with Ramsay on his path to becoming a key part of Erik ten Hag’s coaching staff think he’s special.
Ramsay was born in Oswestry, a small town near the Welsh border, and raised in Llanfyllin, Wales, but he soon turned to coaching because a professional playing future was unlikely.
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Ramsay coached at Loughborough, Swansea City, Shrewsbury, Chelsea, and Old Trafford after his playing career ended.
Professor Chris Cushion, who was researching Sport Science with Management at Loughborough, hired Ramsay to coach the university football squad.
Cushion was Loughborough’s assistant coach, but Ramsay, McKenna, and Prestridge—now Watford’s first-team coach—supported him.
“Loughborough is a really good place for players, but also coaches and analysts before entering the professional game and part of our role there was to bring in aspiring young coaches to work with the team,” Cushion told the Manchester Evening News.
“We ran the team for three years and had our highest-ever non-league finish, we won one league cup, we were university champions and had a tremendously successful spell and took on Kieran McKenna, Matt Prestridge and Eric for that position.
“We were glad those men joined. It was a mentoring opportunity, and I know we’re talking about Eric, but Kieran [McKenna] was a great coach even then. He was among the most talented kids I’ve seen.”
After meeting at Loughborough, Ramsay joined Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s staff in July 2021 after McKenna gave him a good recommendation.
Solskjaer called Ramsay ‘young, fresh and an imaginative coach’ and indicated that he will work with individuals and run set plays.
“It doesn’t surprise me that all three of them [Ramsay, McKenna, and Prestridge] have been successful in the professional game,” Cushion said. “I think the one thing they all had was an extraordinary passion for the sport.
“Their passion to learn, just thinking about the game and coaching all the time. They all had wonderful relationships with the players and were able to connect with them in a meaningful way. They developed significant bonds.
They were technically excellent, passionate, and game pupils. Eric is smart and perceptive, but he connects with athletes.
“There’s a lot of intelligence behind there, but he doesn’t talk down, he just communicates effectively and that’s really important when you’re coaching, as you need to pitch the message to the people who are standing in front of you.”
Due to his personality, Ramsay, a ‘family man’ with a passion for fitness, was able to make such ties at Loughborough, and sources believe he’s also made good links with Carrington players.
Key officials have observed his long hours as United’s first-team coach, and his fluency in Spanish has helped him build relationships with foreign players.
Ramsay’s training ground presence has been regarded as uplifting, with a wonderful blend of power and kindness. Loughborough developed his tactical mind.
“At Loughborough, the coaching staff had different responsibilities for different aspects, whether that be the tactical game plan, preparation, or specific tactical pieces and we would subdivide the work,” Cushion said.
As a university, we wanted to challenge the players and be extremely different, so we experimented and had a significant tactical focus. Eric led some of it and helped with others.
He was strong at tactical analysis and applying it to training. Eric told us Swansea’s first team didn’t conduct as much tactical training as Loughborough.
“We played with lots of various tactical analysis and methods of playing, we were quite varied in the division and the training mirrored that. I would say he caught up on that well, although he’s had a strong reputation for dealing with individual players as well.
Technical development is his specialty. Players must trust you and have something to offer for that. It’s a conversation.”
“We were very possession-based, we played out from the back and played through the thirds,” Cushion added.
“Looking for pressing triggers, not high presses. He’s a possession-based, ball-playing coach because we looked for press triggers. Eric Ramsay would like that style.
“I think that would be the type of football he’d want to see in his team. We still have chats now about stuff. At the level we were working at, he’d work on all of the units, so the defensive shape, midfield, and attacking players.”
At 21, Ramsay became Swansea City’s youngest Under-18 coach after graduating from Loughborough with a first-class honours degree in 2013.
He spent three-and-a-half years with Swansea, leading the Under-21s and U18s before joining his hometown club Shrewsbury as head of academy and coaching.
Despite being a young coach, Ramsay was improving greatly. “I think it’s definitely been his underpinning understanding and knowledge of the game and a willingness to stay contemporary,” Cushion added.
“He has the willingness to understand how the game grows. He definitely can build relationships with players and the people around him. He’s just fantastic at what he does and it’s really interesting if you look at how Chelsea cherry-pick coaches.
Shrewsbury recruited Eric because they recognized potential in him. You have to be good to get that type of attention.”
Ramsay went to Shrewsbury to run their academy, where he “raised their youth system to a new level,” but when the manager was fired in November 2018, he was thrust into the first team.
After that sacking, Ramsay took joint-temporary leadership of Shrewsbury for six games and was retained after Sam Ricketts, who played for Swansea, Hull, Bolton, and Wolves, was appointed.
“Back then, my first impression of Eric was someone who was very articulate, a very good student,” Ricketts told the MEN.
He had a great personality, was eager to learn, and was fun to talk to, which we did often. Six months after starting the Pro Licence, I visited Eric in Shrewsbury.
“I ended up working with him and when I arrived, he’d been at the academy and was put in temporary charge as first-team coach. He was the caretaker manager since all the staff had gone, so he stepped up to take training.
As a first-team coach, I retained him. The players liked his well-organized and planned workouts. He was well-liked.
“He’s extremely brilliant like that. During our time, I would coach the team as well as him, so we’d share components of the session and it would be a collaboration. I’d tell what I wanted to work on and he’d produce a session to run alongside that.
He had excellent sessions, knowledge, and comprehension. At that level, you don’t have a lot of employees, so Eric would have helped with game analysis and evaluations.
Ramsay’s communication skills impressed university staff at Loughborough, and Ricketts agreed that his strong training ground presence made him a vital member of his backroom team at Shrewsbury.
“What’s notable?” “He had a good way of managing a session and knowing what we were looking to achieve from that particular training session,” Ricketts added.
He had a loud, crisp whistle and recognized how intense we wanted the session to be.
“I know it sounds stupid, but it’s something that is so simple, but very effective in gaining attention when you want it.”
Shrewsbury kept their League One status after a dismal season, but their FA Cup performance forced Wolves to a replay in the fourth round.
Ramsay helped Shrewsbury survive that crisis and joined Chelsea’s academy.
“We stayed up, the FA Cup run was excellent, as we beat some decent clubs along the way,” Ricketts said. “Eric was really good and he played well that season, but when Chelsea came in, I honestly thought it was a really smart move for him.
I think it was excellent he came through Shrewsbury at that level and then to experience what a Premier League side and a major club is like.
“It was a chance to see how it’s operated, with the different sides of staff and how that works, so I felt it was a really smart step for him and I advised him to go and enjoy it. Fair enough, yet it made sense.”
Ramsay was ‘cherry-picked’ by Chelsea to be their Under-23 assistant manager. After two years at Cobham, McKenna recommended he move to Manchester.
Solskjaer hired the young coach, but months later, he was fired after a string of poor results. McKenna, Martyn Pert, and Michael Carrick left the club. Ralf Rangnick took over as interim manager.
Ramsay remained on the coaching staff, and Rangnick maintained a hands-off approach to set pieces throughout his interim stay, leaving most training ground set piece drills to him.
Since Ten Hag hired him to work with assistants Mitchell van der Gaag and Steve McClaren, Ramsay’s responsibility has expanded.
Ramsay is now a first-team coach, coaching alongside Van der Gaag and Darren Fletcher.
According to sources, Ramsay now plays a key role in preparing the team to win games and planning and leading sessions. Ten Hag tactically leads the team, and Ramsay is one of several coaches that echo his messages.
Ramsay collaborates with Van der Gaag, McClaren, and Fletcher to execute Carrington’s plan, which has helped the team improve in the league.
Ten Hag is’much more active’ in set-pieces than past managers, and the recent hire of a set-play analyst makes it a collaborative effort.
When Marcus Rashford scored from an imaginative corner routine against Nottingham Forest in December, Christian Eriksen credited Ramsay for the concept. All coaches work with the set-play analyst.
In January, Blackpool offered Ramsay a permanent manager position, but he declined because Ten Hag wanted him to stay.
“He’s able to talk to the foreign lads in their native language and that is important,” Ricketts said of Ramsay.
He can communicate with non-English speakers. Players talking to players is fine, but talking to coaches is better.
“I think the first move was a good one, coming in as set-piece coach and gradually he’s proved himself at Man United and his role has got bigger over time, which probably tells you more than anything that he’s there learning and improving himself.”
Ramsay celebrated United’s February Carabao Cup win at Wembley. The trophy was his first, and a week later, he joined Wales’ national squad.
The youthful coach said he ‘feels at home’ in the Welsh national team, a longtime goal. Ramsay, who played in Welsh football before teaching, was a natural fit, according to Ricketts.
“We did all our coaching badges with the Welsh FA, so he’s well known within the Welsh system for a number of reasons,” Ricketts added. He’s done a lot with Welsh coaching, so it was natural for him.
“Welsh coaching badges are very good and, especially with a Welsh background, Eric ticked all of those boxes.”
Ramsay is currently Wales’ assistant head coach, equivalent to Van der Gaag’s at United, after obtaining clearance from Ten Hag and United.
Ramsay’s new post with Wales has been regarded as’really substantial’ by sources, and Cushion, who recognized Ramsay’s potential during his early years at Loughborough and still interacts with him, is pleased with his success.
“He’s just a thoroughly nice young man,” Cushion added. “I know that sounds a bit cheesy, no one’s going to say he’s a complete w* but he’s not, he’s a great guy, he genuinely cares about others and I think he thoroughly deserves his success.”
Ramsay worked hard for that achievement, and more success appears inevitable.
United think they have a top young coach.
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He is Manchester United’s newest secret weapon, and has earned the affection of superstars like Casemiro.