Offside with Taylor Twellman

Eric Ramsay's coaching journey inspired by Jose Mourinho & Brendan Rodgers


When Minnesota United FC hired Eric Ramsay away from his assistant role with Manchester United in late February, the Welshman became the youngest head coach in Major League Soccer at age 32.

Perhaps more surprising than his age, though, is Minnesota's record to start the year: 3W-1L-2D and fourth place in the Western Conference with a game in hand – all while star playmaker Emanuel Reynoso has only logged 30 minutes on the season.

Ramsay can't take credit for all those results; the first three came under interim manager Cameron Knowles. Nor does he overstate their importance. As he relayed on the latest episode of Offside with Taylor Twellman, long-term growth outranks small peaks and valleys in results, even when they go in his favor, like MNUFC's 2-0 win over LAFC in his MLS coaching debut.

"For me, you've had what would be described in England as that inevitable new manager bounce where someone comes in and the energy changes, and we've probably been the beneficiaries of two of those I suppose," Ramsay told Twellman about his and Knowles' debuts.

"I will go about things in a way that I feel will benefit the club in the long term," Ramsay added. "So I think it's keeping that big picture in mind, but also recognizing that I want to be competitive. The players want to be competitive. No one signs up to play competitive sports for long-term process and patience. Everyone signs up to be successful immediately. So it's sort of grappling with those two standpoints."

If Ramsay is philosophical about his approach, it may be because despite his young age he's been in coaching for nearly two decades, having worked with younger players in his small-town community of Llanfyllin, Wales when he was still a teenager and a player himself.

"There was something maybe deep-rooted personality-wise that pushed me that way," Ramsay explained. "And then I think it also coincided with the fact that coaching at that time was becoming a genuine profession in the way it was seen by associations that we were probably moving past that stereotype of the ex-player turned manager.

"... It is a really established route for coaches now to have come through a more academic sort of career coach type pathway, which was the one that I could see relatively early."

Case in point: legends like Jose Mourinho and Brendan Rodgers, who rose to the peaks of world soccer coaching in the 2000s despite little if any top-flight playing experience.

"At the time I was 16, 17, 18, Mourinho was coming through, obviously, and establishing himself as a top coach with a background not dissimilar to mine," said Ramsay. "And André Villas-Boas and Brendan Rodgers and those types of guys, I think, would always be reference points for me."

Minnesota's fast-rising coach still has a ways to go on that journey, but he won't sacrifice sustainable progress for short-term rewards any time soon.

"We want to go further and be competitive and be a club that represents one of those that can challenge for titles. But that is going to be a process," said Ramsay. "... I think the nature of the way this club goes about its business is going to be that we will build slowly and sensibly toward that. And that was part of the appeal to me."