From Sheffield United scapegoat to star man - How Aaron Ramsdale turned around his fortunes
After being unfairly castigated for his apparent part in Sheffield United’s shocking start to the season, it speaks volumes for both Aaron Ramsdale’s ability and character that he has turned his fortunes around – to the point that he is one of a handful of viable candidates for the Blades’ player of the year award.
The last two seasons have been probably as tough as anything Ramsdale will face in his career, with back-to-back relegations with Bournemouth and the Blades.
But he picked up the Cherries’ player of the year gong last season and realistically, only David McGoldrick can challenge him this time around in a campaign to forget for the club.
A third clean sheet in 33 games for Ramsdale saw United close out a 1-0 victory over Brighton at the weekend, with a big first-half save from Neal Maupay proving crucial.
“Throughout the season, he’s grown into it and become a huge, huge goalkeeper in this league,” said United’s caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom.
“And he’s impressed me massively. It’s great for goalkeepers when they make saves that really count, and he more than played his part [against Brighton].
“He’s still so young and the type of goalkeeper we have now, and what he can potentially become, is a huge plus for this football club.
“His performances have given the fans knowledge that the players are still proud to pull on the shirt and are desperate to still be in the Premier League.
“Hopefully people can see the intent and desire to get back there.”
Ramsdale will have more incentive to do that than most. If, as expected, United rebuff any advances for their No.1 goalkeeper this summer from any Premier League clubs looking to exploit their relegation to the Championship, a spell in the second tier – and, in theory, an easier time of things – will come as welcome respite.
But as the England U21 goalkeeper, Ramsdale is on the radar of senior boss Gareth Southgate and will know that he realistically has to play top-flight football to stand a better chance of staking a claim.
“With the England aspirations, of course, they’re in my head,” he said shortly after rejoining United.
Based on his recent form, don’t bet against it.