Revealed: How hopeful Man Utd owner Jim Ratcliffe meddled in Nice team selection and urged coach to pick Aaron Ramsey and Ross Barkley

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe
Manchester United's potential next owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe wanted Nice coach Lucien Favre to pick Ross Barkley and Aaron Ramsey more often.
  • Ratcliffe frustrated with Nice coach Favre
  • Wanted Ramsey and Barkley to play more often
  • INEOS CEO described Glazer family as 'charming'

WHAT HAPPENED? INEOS CEO Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who owns French side Nice and is hoping to become the next owner of Manchester United, has revealed that he tried to order the coach of the Ligue 1 side to pick certain players. In an extract of a new book Grit, Rigour & Humour: The Ineos Story, published in The Times, Ratcliffe showed his tendency to meddle in team affairs when explaining his frustration that new signings Ross Barkley and Aaron Ramsey, were not starting enough games under then coach Lucien Favre. Ratcliffe sacked Favre in January, replacing him with Didier Digard. But while the new coach gave Ramsey an increased run of starts, he only handed Barkley three Ligue 1 starts. Digard steered Nice away from the relegation to finish ninth in the table.

WHAT THEY SAID: "It’s driving me mad. “I keep saying, ‘[Dave Brailsford, Nice's sporting director] – tell him.’ And Dave says, ‘I can’t tell Favre who to pick – he’s the coach.’ So I say, ‘Well, I’m paying the wages.’ Seriously, I don’t want to interfere but there comes a point,” Ratcliffe said in the extract. “There’s clearly a good reservoir of Premier League players we can tap into. Because Nice is a nice place to be, even on loan. But if you start to get a rumour in the UK that it’s fine but you don’t get picked, it’s quite difficult to scotch. Look at Ramsey. He’s the best footballer we’ve got. He should be playing every week because, with game time, you settle down and confidence grows.

“It’s similar with Ross Barkley. I saw him at Chelsea and he’s a really good footballer. If his mind’s in the right place and he’s in really good shape, you could play him twice a week because he’s built like a tank, really strong. You have to give a guy a chance to settle. And he gets one game every three or four. It’s ridiculous.”

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THE BIGGER PICTURE: Ratcliffe has been bidding to buy United since February but faces fierce competition from Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani, who is now the favourite to be chosen as the Red Devils' next owner. He revealed that he and his colleagues flew to the United States to meet the Glazer family before the club announced last November that they were considering "strategic alternatives" and were open to a sale. “We went to see them and they were charming," Ratcliffe said. "They are all very nice, despite the press they get. Josh was really hospitable. But the club is owned equally by siblings and you can’t talk to that many siblings, really.”


Sir Jim Ratcliffe Ross Barkley Aaron Ramsey Nice 2022-23

WHAT NEXT FOR JIM RATCLIFFE? The INEOS CEO is waiting to hear back from the Glazer family and the Raine Group organising the sale whether his bid of Sheikh Jassim's has been successful.