Pep Guardiola might beg to differ but, as far as Ethan Ebanks-Landell is concerned, defending is a pretty straightforward art.
“Just keep the ball out, pure and simple. That’s what the job is all about for me. Yes, it’s good to get a goal now and then but, first and foremost, I’m more bothered about making sure people don’t score against me.”
The centre-half, signed on a season long loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, cut an excited figure when he was presented to the media at Sheffield United’s training complex yesterday. Having progressed through the ranks at Molineux, where he made 25 appearances last term, Ebanks-Landell revealed how two old school pro’s and one of Chris Wilder’s predecessors’ were responsible for shaping his no-nonsense approach.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from some really good lads,” the 23-year-old said. “Richard Stearman and Jody Craddock have been two really big influences for me. I always remember my first call-up to work with the senior lads and Stears absolutely smashed me. The boys were asking: ‘What are you doing?’ But I loved it. It showed what man’s football is all about.”
Kevin Blackwell, the former United manager, provided Ebanks-Landell with another reminder after taking him to Bury in 2013.
“I went there on loan as part of my education and Kevin toughened me up a lot. When I had a ‘beast’ he really let me know. We got relegated because there was a lot going on off the pitch at the time and that was disappointing.
“But it taught me even more to hate losing. I can’t stand it. So I’ll be giving my all to stop that happening here.”
Ebanks-Landell could make his debut for United tomorrow when Wilder’s team visits Gillingham. The defender feared his deadline day move might collapse after being sent-off during Wolves’ Checkatrade Trophy defeat at Chesterfield 24 hours earlier. But, fortunately for the West Bromwich born defender, competition rules mean he can travel to Priestfield Stadium.
“My head was well and completely gone and I was thinking I was going to be scrambling around to get something in time.” he said. “But luckily, I woke up in the morning and was told that the move was back on and I was buzzing. I got told it doesn’t carry over into league games.”
Wilder moved for Ebanks-Landell after identifying a vacancy for a right-sided centre-half.
“It is a huge club and I couldn’t ask for anything more,” he said. “As a player, you want to be playing for as big a club as possible with as many followers as you can and especially in this league, Sheffield United is the biggest club without a doubt.”