Date Written: 23/07/2020
Bet UK’s Exclusive Interview with Chris Ramsey
Chris Ramsey has been involved in youth teams and general youth development in football since his coaching career started in 1998. From working with the FA and managing England U-20’s to his current role as Technical Director at QPR, Ramsey has always had an integral role in bridging the gap between youth teams, and the first team squad. Bet UK had the chance to ask Chris Ramsey some questions to get an insight into his role in youth development at QPR.
Q: First off Chris, you’re heavily involved in the development of young players at QPR, ensuring there’s a pathway between the academy and the youth team. Is it important to integrate players as soon as they are ready for the first team, or is some extra time in the academy required in some cases, so make sure they have everything they need for the next step?
A: I think it’s important to integrate them as soon as they are ready. You may not fully immerse them in the squad, or in the team, but the early understanding of what is required to play first team football is very, very important. There’s nothing like actually doing the task that you’re asked to do, to give you that experience.
Q: I’d imagine you see hundreds of young players every season, so what traits do you look for in a player to suggest they have what it takes to make the step up to the first team?
A: Firstly - attitude. Attitude is everything. They don’t have to be a ‘goody two-shoes’, but the attitude to want to get better, to want to learn, to want to be playable, that’s one of the most important things. I think it’s probably as important as any ability they have.
Q: Is that highlighted by the number of highly talented individuals across the world, that perhaps never showed off their true potential, because their attitude isn’t what their ability was?
A: Yeah, I think you’ll go onto the parks and fields and you can find some very technically gifted players, but their attitudes just haven’t been right. Without that attitude to learn, and to develop, most people don’t make it.
Q: How much pressure is put on a youth player once they’ve been promoted to the first team squad? I can’t imagine what that pressure is like as a young player. But from your perspective as a coach, how do you view it?
A: I think there is always a lot of pressure. You put pressure on yourself as a player, when you go and play. Before the game even starts, with your family, your friends and everything you’ve worked for, that creates a level of pressure. I think there is pressure on young players, but it’s down to the coaches to make them believe that they are good enough to be there, and also give them the leeway to realise that it’s not going to be their last game if they don’t play well.
Q: When a player is signed for multi-million pound fees, there’s obviously an expectation of them to hit the ground running. When there’s a young player coming into the first team, is there a bit of leeway for them to gain that experience, or are they expected to influence the team straight away?
A: Well, first of all, it depends how much they cost! The more they cost, their price would suggest they are more finished than someone who is a punt. For example, someone who comes in at £5-£6m, you’d expect them to be more polished than someone who comes in at half a million. So sometimes, clubs are looking at it more from what they paid for the player. Usually, the more they play, the more they think they are ready.
But, I always think there is leeway to get bedded in. A lot of the time, players come in and do well straight away but it’s not sustainable. So that time is important. They can get to know the club, get to know the fans and show a good work ethic. Their work ethic will always buy time with the fans.
Q: Finally Chris, what would your advice be to a young, aspiring footballer who believes they have got what it takes?
A: I think if you are technically gifted, you can fit in most places. There’s also your game understanding. The way the game is going now, in the old days, a player would stay at a club for 7-10 years and get to know that club, and managers lasted much longer. Now, managers change within a year and a half, and most players have 5-6 different clubs throughout their career. In that time, there might be 3-4 managers at each club, so they could go through 10 managers in their career.
So, if you are technically rounded, you always have a chance of adapting to a new manager or a new club you’ve moved to. So that’s what I would say, your game understanding, your technical accomplishments and obviously, your attitude.