Eric Ramsay has stood out since the moment he joined Manchester United and has made instant impressions on Casemiro and Erik ten Hag.
A rare case for British coaches, Ramsay speaks Spanish and French, which has allowed him to create a bond with United players and help new signings who couldn’t speak English fluently.
At 31, Ramsay turned to a coaching career young after realizing during his time as a player in the Shrewsbury’s academy that he didn’t possess the talent to make it to the highest level in the game.
Instead the Welshman looked to focus his analytical mind on combining an academic background with coaching, picking up a degree in sports science and then a PhD in elite youth development in sport from Loughborough University.
Ramsay’s initial steps into coaching involved local grassroots clubs and the academy of Welsh Premier League side The New Saints FC, where Ramsay also briefly played before going to Loughborough University.
While obtaining his degree at Loughborough, Ramsay initially worked with the second team before stepping into a coaching role with the first team.
It was here that he would work under Chris Cushion and alongside former Manchester United coach and current Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna and Watford’s first team coach Matt Prestridge.
Cushion spoke to the Manchester Evening News about the young coaches saying “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.”
“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 really successful period and we took on Kieran McKenna, Matt Prestridge and Eric for that role.”
Cushion wasn’t only full of praise for Ramsay but also McKenna, who is now manager of the most in-form club in League One, saying “we were really happy that those guys came on board. It was a mentoring opportunity and I know we’re here to talk about Eric, but Kieran [McKenna] was an unbelievably good coach, even back then. He was probably one of the most talented kids I’ve seen.”
It was this connection Ramsay built with McKenna that led to his recommendation to join Manchester United in July 2021 from Chelsea’s u23s.
Cushion isn’t surprised that the young coaches have gone on to excel after their time at Loughborough saying “I think the common trait they all share was that they have an unbelievable passion for the sport. Their desire to learn, just thinking about the game and coaching all the time. They all had great relationships with the players and were able to connect with the players in a really meaningful way. They built powerful connections.”
“They were not only really, really good technically, but they had a real passion for it and they were students of the game. Eric is a really clever, switched-on guy, but he’s able to communicate with players in an authentic way.”
It is this ability to communicate with the players which has caused him to stand out at United and impress, particularly the Spanish speaking contingent at the club.
Cushion delved into Ramsay’s passion for tactics and preferred style of play which aligns with Ten Hag even quipping that “I would say in terms of that tactical analysis, then putting that into training sessions is something he was very good at. I can remember when Eric was at Swansea, telling us their first-team didn’t do as much tactical work as Loughborough.”
“We were very possession-based, we played out from the back and played through the thirds, not necessarily a high press, but looking for pressing triggers. We’d look for things that would trigger a press, so I would suggest he’s a possession-based, ball-playing type of coach.”
After his time at Loughborough, Ramsay worked in the academies of Swansea City and Shrewsbury Town before moving up to first team level with Shrewsbury where he even spent a short spell as caretaker co-manager.
Eventually moving to Chelsea’s u23s and then taking on a set-piece coaching role at Manchester United, Ramsay has since moved into a larger first team coach role.
Initially focusing on the defensive side of set pieces, Ramsay was pivotal in turning around United from being the second worse defenders of set pieces in the Premier League in the 20/21 season to the fourth best in the 21/22 season.
Since Ten Hag’s arrival, set pieces have become more of a collaborative approach with the Dutch manager taking a bigger involvement than previous managers, although it was still Eric Ramsay who was praised by Christian Eriksen for creating the corner routine for Marcus Rashford‘s goal against Nottingham Forest.
As a result, Ramsay has taken on a “pivotal role” where he works alongside assistant manager Mitchell van der Gaag in taking the majority of training sessions and in charge of echoing Ten Hag’s messages.
Ramsay’s standing within the game was emphasised in January when he was offered the manager position at Championship side Blackpool but such is United’s opinion of him, Ten Hag’s desire for the young coach to stay convinced him to turn down the offer.
Ramsay has since gained permission from Ten Hag to combine his United role with the assistant manager position with the Wales national team.
Highly sought after, Ramsay has continued to impress in his young coaching career and is believed to be one of the best around by the club.