Reserves and Academy Player Profiles: Ryan Tunnicliffe

Ryan Tunnicliffe

It’s particularly hard not to get carried away when reviewing or discussing a talented young footballer. For me, Ryan Tunnicliffe embodies everything I love about a tough-tackling midfielder and he’s at a club where we’ve had one of the best in the game, Roy Keane. It’s hard not to get carried away…

Name – Ryan Tunnicliffe

Age – 18 (30/12/1992)

Nationality – English – born in Bury

Squad number – N/A

Background – Ryan is a local lad and grew up not far from the Neville brothers.He officially joined United on the 1st July 2009 when he enrolled as a Scholar but he has been with the club throughout the Schoolboy ranks. Capped at England youth levels, Ryan has always been touted as a good player. A string of fine performances in U18s during the 2008/09 season saw his profile rise and he was finally rewarded with a big three year professional contract just after his 17th birthday.

Position – Ryan is a midfielder. He’s your classic box-to-box all round combative player. He can sit in front of a back four as an anchor man or he can be used higher up the pitch as a playmaker (someone without obvious flair but an ability to pass). He’s best though going box-to-box like Ince or Robson used to do. His versatility has meant he has been used in the full back positions before and I’m sure if need be, he’d fill in at centre back too.

Strengths – Ryan’s biggest strength is his grit and his desire to never miss out on the ball – whether that’s making sure he wins the ball in a tackle or whether it’s perfection in his passing. By no means is he the best passer in the Academy but it’s something he’s worked hard on. His best asset is his tackling though. He enjoys a tackle and he’s hard but fair when he challenges for the ball, to use a cliché, he wears his heart on his sleeve. His game has become so all-rounded now that frequently he is also the player that is bursting forward trying to break the opposition line. As a result he is in goalscoring positions quite often and his goal tally has risen. He carries the ball well, often leading the breakaways. He has something that a lot of young players don’t have, mental strength. His determination, courage, concentration, aggression, composure and work-rate show he is a very keen and uncompromising character. Some players are just naturally mentally strong, with some it comes with experience, and others just let their ball-skills do what the head can’t. Ryan appears to fall into the natural category.

Weaknesses – There aren’t actually too many weaknesses that I can think of in Ryan’s game. If I was being harsh I’d say he needs to work some more on his passing, there are too many wayward balls – but he has clearly worked hard on that part of his game already. Maybe his awareness and positioning needs to be better – he is often seen drifting on the pitch which can be good but more often than not is a sign of a lack of positional awareness. He’s strong in the air but not ‘top-dog’, being under six foot means he has to work hard on his spring to ensure he can challenge aerially. Finally, the biggest weakness he may have is that he will be tagged as ‘the next Roy Keane’, it’s something he’ll have to be mentally strong about and just ignore otherwise it will either go to his head or bother him.

Player comparison – He’s a bit like a better version of Lee Cattermole without the erratic tackling (I guess the haircut helps). In terms of all-round style he’s like a Roy Keane or a Steven *spits* Gerrard. In terms of his character – hard worker, unassuming, often shunned in the limelight with one of his more creative midfield partners getting the praise (Pogba, Morrison etc) he’s a bit like Darren Fletcher or Nicky Butt.

Present – Tunnicliffe suffered a serious injury last year and was out of the side until the end of the season. He’s returned this time looking as capable as before and has made more of a step-up to the Reserves than he did last year. He still features in Academy matches but has impressed when in the Reserves. As one of the older Academy players he’s shown a real seniority on the pitch when playing at Academy level and has been the real engine of the side.

Bizarre Fact – I’m afraid nothing bizarre about Ryan, so I thought I’d share my favourite moment of him. It was nearly a year ago now and the U18s were playing Stoke. Two goals down but playing well United were getting frustrated. Ryan rallied the team together and with supreme desire he put in an amazing performance to pull the team back and then help them to win 3-2. Whilst he didn’t score and whilst Pogba and Ajose got a lot of the credit, I remember thinking how awesome he was.

Video evidence:

There isn’t much YouTube content so I will link in some match reports from games where you can read about the style Ryan plays in:

– 2009 Torneo di Calcio Memorial Claudio Sassi

– Liverpool U18 vs. Man United U18 December 2008

– Man United U18 vs. Bolton U18 November 2009

– Stoke U18 vs. Man United U18 October 2010

Prediction – Ryan is a very talented footballer. He’s progressing at a time when there aren’t many tackling midfielders in our Academy. Ryan is one of my favourite players to watch so I have to tell myself that we’ve seen others like Ryan come and go (David Jones, Ritchie Jones, Floribert N’Galula, David Fox etc), however he seems to have a great chance of ‘making it’. His contract last January was reported to be huge for a youngster at United and Fergie is known to like him. First and foremost he must continue to impress in the Reserves and maybe a loan near the end of the season would be a good next move. I will complete the holy trinity of central midfielders in the Academy soon when I profile Pogba, but for the moment I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about Morrison and now Tunnicliffe…I think he’s a bit special.

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8 Comments on Reserves and Academy Player Profiles: Ryan Tunnicliffe

  1. I thought you would be doing pogba after morrison..Anyways happy that you did ryan..Fine prospect, hope he does progress as expected..

  2. I really hope that Ryan would do a great job next season, I also wishes to see him get some chances to play for the first team next season or if lucky I would love to see him play in the match against Black Pool this sunday. ^^

  3. I see, thanks for telling me, i did not really get to follow the reserves team so i dont really know a lot about them, I only use to watch them play twice or thrice and but i really do like Tunnicliffe and Morrison, they’re good.

  4. Is there any website that I can watch the reserves team play and websites that i can read and follow them, since I really think that this team got a lot of interesting players.

  5. I’m more impressed with magnus eikrem in this video though…his few passing was sublime..but he has been sold,hasn’t he??

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