Sbragia: Enjoyment key for Man Utd U23s

Ricky Sbragia was United reserve team boss from 2002 to 2005

Ricky Sbragia was United reserve team boss from 2002 to 2005

NEW Manchester United Under-23 boss Ricky Sbragia says one of his key objectives in the role will be to make sure his players enjoy themselves.

The Scot was appointed last month, 12 years after leaving the club to become first-team coach at Bolton. He was reserve team boss at Old Trafford from 2002 to 2005 and says he will invoke the spirit of Sir Alex Ferguson now he is back at the club.

“I remember when I first came to the club and the manager [Sir Alex Ferguson] said to make sure it was the best two, three, four or five years of their lives,” the 61-year-old told MUTV. “I try to do that - to let them have the freedom to really enjoy the game, enjoy the training and the surrounds. They are working for the greatest club in the world, in my opinion, and what an opportunity it is for them.

“They should totally appreciate it. I always believe in playing the game the right way, so they're able to express themselves, they can be unpredictable and take risks.

"I've always thought that. I'll try to make things different. But I always believe you should let them deal with situations, have a chat informally, and see why they've done it and maybe consider something else. They all can handle the ball, are all good on the ball and are all athletes. That's fantastic and it's trying to get the best of them.”

The U23 role has been filled on an interim basis by Academy boss Nicky Butt since Warren Joyce left to become Wigan manager last November. After Bolton, Sbragia became manager of Sunderland, saving them from relegation, and then took charge of the U17, U19 and U21 sides for his native Scotland.

He added: “In a sense, it was very sad to leave United but I kept a lot of good friends here. I kept in touch with them and gained a lot of experience along the way.

"International football has been exceptional for me but, if anything, I did miss the everyday involvement and having a squad and unit to work with.

“It's fantastic to get this opportunity and I thank Nicky [Butt] and John [Murtough], the people at Manchester United, for bringing me back. I don't feel like I've been away.

"I love it, it’s a great club. It's always been a great club. I was really honoured to come in 2002 and I'm honoured again to be asked to come in.

“Not many people get that opportunity. When Nicky spoke to me, there were no thoughts, it was just, 'Okay, fine, yeah.'

“It was just a matter of time, like everything else. The difference now is everything is greater, with more personnel and more players. It's fantastic to be back and it is a great place to work as well."

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