Ryan’s breakthrough aims
Ryan Tunnicliffe spoke exclusively to Inside United ahead of the campaign..
You hit top form last May. Did you not really want the season to end?
When I came back from Peterborough, I wasn’t in the best of shape. Obviously, I didn’t play as much as I would have liked there and it took me a few games to get back into the swing of things to get match-fit. It was only in the last couple of games that I could really show what I was capable of doing.
You mentioned last year that training at Peterborough was tiring so was that draining, especially when you didn’t get to play?
I don’t think I was match-fit. Training-wise, it’s a different type of fitness. When I came back and played in the Reserves, I started to get properly match-fit towards the end of the season. Like you say, I didn’t want it to come to an end as I’d started to play well.
And you scored at Chelsea – was that your first goal for the Reserves?
Yes and the first of the season as I didn’t score at Peterborough. It was a bit of scruffy finish though.
How pleasing was it to win that silverware with the Reserves?
It was good. United, as a club, want to win everything we enter and to beat City in the final and also be crowned the best Reserves team is a great achievement for everyone.
It was clear that winning at the Etihad Stadium in that Senior Cup final meant something to everybody..
After the way we [the first team] lost the league, we [the Reserves] were the next team to go there and it was nice. They wanted to brag a bit but we had a lot more local lads in our side and it made a lot of difference. I think we showed that we wanted it more.
You’re training with the first-team squad. Your aim must be to get into the side?
Going out and getting experience last year was one thing but every lad here wants to play for the first team. I’m just trying my hardest to get there.
Is it a clean slate essentially in pre-season with everybody wanting to impress?
Obviously, there are some places where you don’t need to go out on loan to get the experience. If people go out on the tour, they can impress and get above others who have been out on loan. So it doesn’t really matter when we all come back for pre-season.
A number of midfielders have left the club – Park, Pogba, Gibson, Morrison etc – so is the path to the team becoming clearer?
There are not as many people but we’ve still got Larnell and Jesse, who are doing very well as well, and people who are younger than me and have got me looking over my shoulder as well as looking forward. There is a gap but I think there are still plenty of good players in the squad that I’ve got to get past to even get a few games this year.
Sir Alex has already commented that you’ve got a chance of making it…
It’s great to hear from him. If he thinks highly of you, it makes you want to strive harder and try and get into his team because you know that he likes you. So, obviously, it’s nice.
Training with the first team must give you that opportunity to shine?
There are a lot of players away with those that have been on the Euros so there are not many proper first-team players there but it doesn’t really matter to me. It’s my chance to impress and prove I’m capable of being there.
Is it a boost to know the manager will give players a chance by promoting from within the ranks?
It’s always been a club like that, hasn’t it? The gaffer doesn’t spend stupid amounts of money on players like some teams do. It’s just good to know that you can get a chance when you’re watching the likes of Scholesy [Paul Scholes], who’s still in the team, but also Sheasy [John O’Shea] and Wes [Brown] so you do know it’s possible to break through.
More recently, Tom Cleverley has made the step up as well..
Clevz [Tom Cleverley] and Welbz [Danny Welbeck] were doing well and started playing and everyone was talking about Tom being the next big thing for England and Danny played at the European Championship this year. I know them personally as well and, if you know what I mean, I grew up playing with them. So it’s a great boost for me personally to see them doing so well.
As you bid to make your mark is there any additional pressure now you’re now the only one of the highly-rated Youth Cup-winning central midfield trio at the club?
On the other hand, they were good players playing in my position so one of us might have made it and another one might have not. So with them gone, it does open it up for me in a way but obviously I was close to them. We were midfield partners and good friends. I was sad to see Paul go and I do think he was a great player and could have made it here as well. But another door opens and it goes both ways.
Being a local lad, did it hurt you more than most to lose the league to City?
To be fair, I was gutted. I didn’t leave the house for about a week. I have been a United fan ever since I started watching football and it does mean a lot to me – as you can see when I play as I give everything. It was a bad way to lose the league as well.
At Carrington, you can almost sense the determination to win the title back..
When we came back, it’s been about that. The gaffer has managed to stop Liverpool, then Chelsea and then Arsenal so it’s nothing new to him. I think he’s more determined than ever as well because they are closer rivals and we want to put an end to them winning titles and not let them build a bit of momentum.
There are players we haven’t even touched on who have a chance of breaking through. The boss will be well aware of the overall strength of the squad won’t he?
Personally, I would say he’s the best manager who has ever managed. He overhauled Liverpool and then Chelsea, when they had all that money, and Arsenal had a spell as well. It’s always United and someone else so he does know exactly what he’s doing. He doesn’t need to go spending money because he knows he’s got some great players in the Reserves.
Certainly, the second-string team could not have done any more last season..
Exactly. He knows he’s got the best Reserves team in the country and that bodes well for the club.