Eric Ramsay looked visibly frustrated as he watched his monitor in the Manchester United dugout at Brentford on Wednesday night.
It was only a matter of minutes into the game when the set piece specialist, signed last summer from Chelsea, was frantically rewinding footage of long shots into the box in an attempt to thwart the threat.
The pressure continued to mount but United, through a combination of fortune, finished with errors and the fantastic David de Gea managed to weather the storm until half-time to head in an unlikely way inside and still level.
United came on relieved at half-time at the Brentford Community Stadium, knowing they needed to improve. It wouldn’t be long before they managed to respond in style.
Three goals from three academy graduates secured all three points, but despite an impressive second-half performance, United would be hit hard when Ivan Toney scored a late consolation goal.
Having managed to quell much of the danger from Brentford, United’s defense opened up again with a long shot into the box, which took advantage of the uncertainty and exposed the still unresolved vulnerabilities with Ralf Rangnick.
Additional pressure has been placed on United to threaten set pieces this season since Ramsay’s arrival last summer, an addition Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was keen to show off.
“We were lucky to convince Eric Ramsay to come and join the best club in the world and in the country,” Solskjaer said. -Play too.
“They were excited. He is young, fresh and with new ideas, an innovative coach that we know from before.”
Ramsay was recommended to the club by former assistant coach Kieran McKenna, now in charge at Ipswich, after they met during his time at Loughborough University.
There’s no denying the pedigree of the former Chelsea and Shrewsbury academy manager, who earned his Uefa Pro license at the age of 27, though this added pressure as a “set piece specialist” appears to be weighing heavily on his current reputation.
Following the midweek win, United have now taken 114 corners this season and failed to score from any of them, also scoring the fewest goals from set pieces in the Premier League.
This stat is even more amazing when you consider the players they have at their disposal. United may not be known for their long ball game, but they are not utilizing the aerial talents of Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani, Raphael Varane and Harry Maguire.
It’s even more damning when you consider recent PopFoot research showing that Ronaldo has scored the most headed goals in the 21st century (110), 32 more than second-placed Luuk De Jong. Cavani himself is ranked 12th with 57 headed goals in his professional career, further proof of the untapped threat that is currently being wasted.
However, there is some good news.
Last season, United had the second-worst defensive set-piece record in the Premier League, conceding 14 times throughout the campaign.
They now have the fourth-best record and would have shared third place were it not for that late strike from Toney via a long shot against Brentford on Wednesday night.
United’s summer fixture deserves some credit for the job he has done defensively, but until they start scoring goals at the other end, he will remain an easy target for wider fault lines on the pitch.
As with any newcomer, such changes can take time to implement, but in the long run, Rangnick could still reap the rewards of an interesting staffing.
At this point, Ramsay’s Pitching Nightmares are very much in evidence.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.