Sweet return but no ‘sugar-coating’ for Aaron Ramsdale at Sheffield United

AARON RAMSDALE could be forgiven for thinking that he had never left Sheffield United.

Goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale: Back with Blades. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

As the Blades signing was undergoing a medical ahead of his recent return to Bramall Lane, familiar faces were there at nearly every turn, including the figure whom he credits as being a pivotal figure in his career in goalkeeping coach Darren Ward.

The banter was soon flowing between the pair, with Ramsdale admitting that the chance to work alongside the 46-year-old on a daily basis amid top-flight surroundings was a key consideration in his decision to rejoin from Bournemouth.

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Ramsdale, who left United in early 2017, said: “It was huge. I never wanted to leave in the first place and it was a huge factor.

“To be fair, Neil Moss and Anthony White at Bournemouth have probably been the best two people I could have gone to – to push me on and make me better.

“I saw Wardy in the medical and he was smiling and we were just reminiscing and it has been great.

“He is a top-class coach and I think the manager mentions him quite a lot in interviews. If he is saying it, you do not need me to say it as well. The proof is in the pudding.”

Verbal sparring may play its part in the healthy working environment at the club, but there is a time for play and a time to get serious as Ramsdale is quick to acknowledge.

Those characteristics were present during Ramsdale’s time at the club in the Chris Wilder era. The Blades may now have the trappings of a Premier League outfit, but those core values have not changed.

It is an adult world where players know their responsibilities – and if they err, there is no arm around the shoulder to comfort them.

Just ask Ramsdale’s predecessor, Dean Henderson. He may have been feted on a regular basis for his performances, but after a high-profile error against Liverpool, there was no consolation from Wilder – who insisted he is not there ‘to pat players’ heads.’

You sense Henderson and the overwhelming majority of Blades players would not have it any other way if they let standards slip. If some do, then tough.

It is an approach that goes down well with Ramsdale.

He continued: “You do not need to beat around the bush with me and that is probably the same with the fans here.

“I hope I do not have many bad games, but if I do, I do not want anything sugar-coated. Even from my mum and dad saying: ‘You played well’ when I have not.

“With everyone being straight, it is something I enjoy and probably gets the best out of me.”

After a magnificent first season back in the big time, building on those achievements is now the aim for Blades, with ‘standing still’ being something which is an anathema to Wilder.

It is something that Bournemouth avoided the pitfalls of in their opening four Premier League seasons when they established themselves and Ramsdale can spy similarities.

He added: “The lads there from League One and the Championship found themselves in the Premier League and stayed there for five or six seasons.

“What the lads did here last season was sensational and now you can say they are established Premier League players and they are also bringing in other players.

“Phil Jagielka hardly kicked a ball here last season and he would probably walk into quite a lot of other teams.

“We are moving forward every day and that is down to the manager and staff as he does not want anyone standing still.”

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James Mitchinson