Who are Man United's 'young coaches learning on the job'?

A set-piece specialist in his late 20s, a former Vancouver assistant and a rookie prised from Spurs’ U18s – meet Manchester United’s ‘young coaches learning on the job’, who are said to concern Bruno Fernandes and Co

  • Manchester United are enduring an inner revolt against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 
  • Several players are concerned about many young coaches learning on the job
  • Solskjaer has the lesser known Kieran McKenna and Martyn Pert among his staff 
  • Michael Carrick is also under scrutiny and has no experienced aside from United 

Right now at Manchester United things are tense. Very tense indeed.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks like a dead man walking following demoralising and convincing home defeats to both Liverpool and Manchester City within a couple of weeks, and his coaching team are now also being placed under the microscope.

The 2-0 defeat to City may not have been as hard-hitting as the 5-0 capitulation against Liverpool in terms of scoreline, yet United were just as comprehensively outplayed. 

Nothing seems to fit at Old Trafford right now, and murmurs of deep upset within the senior squad come as little surprise.

Indeed, as reported by Sportsmail, unrest is mounting within the ranks and a number of senior players expressing concern that too many young coaches are learning on the job.

Talisman Bruno Fernandes also feels the club is lacking a sense of direction under the current regime, as things appear to be going from bad to worse.

But is it simply a case of being too ill-prepared, or lacking experience generally? Who are these ‘young coaches’ that are being spoken of? Sportsmail took a closer look… 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks like a man out of his depth at Old Trafford but now his young coaching staff are also coming under fire and accused of offering a lack of direction

There is a growing unrest at United and senior stars are now questioning the coaching set-up

United icon Carrick needs no introduction.

A staple part of the midfield for years, playmaker Carrick was an unsung hero woven into the very fabric of Sir Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering team as an intelligent, deep-lying playmaker.

After hanging up his boots Carrick made it clear he wanted to coach and remain on the touchline. United had no hesitation in taking him up.

Following his retirement, he immediately slotted into a role in Jose Mourinho’s coaching staff. Solskjaer arrived at the club just months later and decided to retain Carrick and Kieran McKenna – more on him later – in his backroom staff reshuffle.

Michael Carrick transitioned straight from his playing days to the coaching staff at United

Carrick is set to possess a high level of skill in ‘spotting details’ and ‘influencing players with an arm around the shoulder and a one-to-one chat’, according to his former colleague Nicky Butt, who revealed all to the Athletic.

Carrick is delegated a vast amount of work and responsibility by Solskjaer, who allows the former Tottenham man to often take the reins on the touchline, in tandem with assistant manager Mike Phelan.

With an ambitious nature and an appetite for self-improvement, Carrick is said by many around Old Trafford to have eyes on one day becoming a first-team manager himself.

For now, however, a sizeable problem must be navigated in order to help United slipping ever further behind their rivals.

Kieran McKenna

First team coach. Age: 35

The young Northern Irishman was a professional player at Tottenham before a hip injury in 2009 curtailed his playing days, following several surgical procedures and a long period of rehabilitation.

Eager to stay in the game at the highest level, McKenna quickly dived into study to unlock the world of coaching.

United is very much what McKenna knows. His only other role away from Old Trafford was with former club Spurs, where he was installed as Under-18s coach before leaving after a year in charge following the offer of the same job title at United.

Kieran McKenna quickly dived into the world of coaching after an injury curtailed his career

McKenna earned his stripes with the U18 Young Devils before being promoted through the ranks to Solskjaer’s set-up.

Highly thought of, McKenna quickly gained the respect of those around him.

Speaking to the Athletic, former United reserve coach Butt said: ‘Kieran was a breath of fresh air (when he arrived at the club), a very good coach.

‘He’s on it. He didn’t get to the top of football (as a player) so his next thing was, “I’m going to be the very best coach I can be”. He’s very, very, very good.

Despite his ambition and drive, however, McKenna is understood to be one of the coaches who some of United’s elite stars hold reservations over.

The slide in results has seen eyes cast around United’s Carrington base, with the club now needing priceless experience more than ever before. 

Eric Ramsay

First team coach. Age: 29

Ramsay was appointed as Manchester United’s first set-piece specialist and individual development coach this summer.

Ramsay, 29, became the youngest Brit to gain his UEFA Pro Licence badge – which stands as the top coaching qualification in the game – two years ago.

United prised their man away from an arch rival, with Ramsay previously holding the role of assistant U23 coach at Chelsea.

Ramsay studied sports science at Loughborough University before working in both the Swansea and Shrewsbury academies. He would go on to work with the first team at Shrewsbury, before then catching his break and earning a move to Chelsea.

Eric Ramsay became the youngest Brit to gain his UEFA Pro Licence and is highly regarded

Ties with United were already established, however, as Ramsay was well acquainted with McKenna. The pair studied together at university. It would be McKenna who recommended his friend for a Red Devils role. 

He arrived at the club with a lofty reputation despite being in the early stages of his career, and was given much fanfare by Solskjaer upon his arrival.

The Norwegian wasted little time in talking up Ramsay, telling the club’s official website: ‘We’ve been fortunate enough to convince Ramsay to come and join the best club in the world.

‘He’s a very highly-rated coach who is going to be working with individuals and in charge of set-plays as well.’

Ramsay is said to specialise not only in dead balls and set pieces, but also the art of how to build out from the back when under pressure. 

Using a combination of possession-transfer games and small-sided games, Ramsay at United has been introducing the basic concepts of build-up play when under pressure, with the aim of teaching the players how to find the spare player when in possession with an overload.

The aim then is giving the player the ability to recognise how to bring the ball out with control and how to move the ball through the thirds of the field. Needless to say, however, this hasn’t quite been going to plan so far this season.

Martyn Pert

First team coach. Age: 43

Norfolk-born Pert first crossed paths with Solskjaer at Cardiff City, during the Norwegian’s ill-fated tenure there.

Pert remained at the south Wales club after Malky Mackay had departed, yet Solskjaer was keen to retain his expertise and insight.

They spent just four games together before a parting of ways, with Solskjaer getting the axe and Pert making the long-haul trip to join Canadian side Vancouver Whitecaps as assistant manager.

Martyn Pert (right) was familiar to Solskjaer and brought in from Vancouver Whitecaps

Four years in Major League Soccer saw Pert work on his man-management and tableside manner with certain players, before Solskjaer would come calling again and request his services at Old Trafford.

Pert was initially given a remit of strength and conditioning, before working in a general coaching capacity.

In the early days of his United tenure, Solskjaer told the Manchester Evening News: ‘Michael Carrick, Kieran McKenna, Martyn Pert and the analysis group all make it easier for [assistant manager] Mick Phelan and myself to put a team out, and the players have shown that they can respond to different approaches and plans by coping with various formations and approaches in recent weeks.’

Time has passed since then and results haven’t exactly been shining. Whether the players still hold similar opinions will likely become very apparent in the next few crunch weeks.




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