Manchester United’s summer was one of huge signings, but it’s a below the radar appointment that has reaping the rewards in the early weeks of the season
Eric Ramsay was unquestionably the most low profile arrival at Manchester United this summer.
But Ramsay’s appointment as set-piece coach marked a severe change of direction in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s setup at Carrington.
Before this summer, assistant manager Martyn Pert and goalkeeper coach Richard Hartis were in charge of how they both attacked and defended set-piece situations.
Talented coaches undeniably, but after conceding 14 goals in the Premier League last season – the second highest in the division – Solskjaer knew it was a marginal gain his side could make.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to convince Eric Ramsay to come and join the best club in the world and in the country,” the United boss said after landing one of the rising stars in the coaching world.
“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.”
And his impact is already being felt at Old Trafford – in five Premier League games, they are yet to concede from a set-piece, one of just three sides in the division to hold that record.
They may not have scored yet, but showed their qualities in pre-season when scoring three past Everton.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta came to a similar realisation last summer, hiring Andreas Georgson to oversee their players on set-pieces.
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That reaped immediate rewards and such was his success in north London, the Swede was snapped up by Malmo at the. end of the season.
That meant Arteta had to replace him and he swiftly did that, bringing in Nicolas Jover from Manchester City.
But in the very early stages of the season, there are teething problems, with the Gunners conceding a higher xG than any other Premier League team.
Solskjaer had some harsh words for his team’s defending overall after the dramatic win over West Ham, but David de Gea’s save from Mark Noble’s penalty ensured that in least one aspect they are remain unbreached.
“We have to work better defensively, no doubt,” Solskjaer said. “In the first half, we were too easy to play through.
“We will work on it because there is no respite when you play football. I’ve spoken about how you can’t take rests when you defend.
“We dropped into a back six [for the goal] and there were too many spaces,” he added. “We were too late to charge the ball. We’ve already sorted that and spoke about that at half-time.”
Solskjaer was fully aware of the need to close the gap on their title rivals and bringing in Ramsay could yet prove as pivotal and Sancho, Varane or even Ronald himself.