The season is nearly here and I can’t wait for the real thing to kick off.
We’ve had a fantastic 6 weeks of really intense physical and mental preparation for the long season ahead. A few years ago the majority of footballers would probably have told you that they hate and dread pre-season. I think that this mindset is changing and players actually come back looking forward to building on a base fitness they have developed during their break.
We all had programmes to follow with a detailed diary of when and what sessions we had to do. Obviously this differed from player to player depending on their circumstances the previous season and the need for recovery from injuries and from fatigue.
Every one of the players will follow this plan because if you don’t you will soon get found out in one of the many tests carried out on the first day back at training. The squad here came back in great shape which the staff were extremely pleased about as it enabled us to get back into the rhythm of training and get the footballs out nice and early.
We went to St George’s Park and Italy for our pre season trips and they were both extremely good for us as a team. St George’s was excellent because of the fantastic facilities it has to offer and we certainly made use of them all.
Italy was different because by then the majority of our fitness work was complete and it was all about getting our tactical work done and getting match sharpness from training and friendly games. Mountains surrounded the hotel we stayed at and it certainly makes an ice bath easier after training when you have beautiful scenery to look at!
Being away for so long together and living in each other’s pockets helps create and build a strong togetherness and team spirit. Plenty of banter gets thrown about, the new lads get to know the players better and we get to know them a bit better when they sing their induction song. Kyle Lafferty’s mash up of Ronan Keating and Belfast girl will stay with us for a long time!
The friendly games have all gone well and performances have been good. We have got exactly what we need from them in order to be prepared for the first game at Wolves.
It is an exciting first game back in the Championship. It is a ground which is known to generate a good atmosphere and I know our fans will be travelling in their thousands to support the team at the start of this season which all of us players feel really excited and positive about.
The aim as everyone knows is to get back to the Premier League as quickly as possible and to do this we need to be at our best every week. I hope we can all enjoy it together like we did last time we played in it and get promoted at the first time of asking. With the squad and management we have in place we will do everything we can to achieve this.
After all of the concerns and problems Brazil faced before the World Cup I was so pleased to see the tournament turn into a huge success. I watched as many games as I could (or my family allowed me to!).
Germany were deserved winners: they were powerful, organized, attacked at pace and defended extremely well. Their standout trait for me was their mentality and their willingness to work for each other and sacrifice themselves individually when necessary for the team. I watched them a bit more closely than I did some other teams, as they are Scotland’s first opponents when we embark on our European Championship Qualifying campaign. A nice easy start for us!!!!
Playing the world champions at a packed Westfalenstadion (home of Borussia Dortmund) is a game me and Whitts (Steven Whittaker) are obviously extremely keen to be involved in so we have to make sure we are both in the team here and playing well.
The transfer window is always an interesting and exciting time of the year for players and fans alike and this year has been no exception. Southampton have sold five of last season’s key players to date and have been getting lots of negative press. They have however received a huge amount of money for these players so can certainly reinvest as well as keep producing players from their academy. It will be interesting to see how they fare this season and to see if all of the criticism aimed at them about how they are doing business will be just or not.
Other transfers which have taken my attention are Didier Drogba’s return to Chelsea which along with Cesc Fabregas’, Felipe Luis’ and Diego Costa’s arrivals make them my favourites for the Premier League title in my opinion.
As part of my summer holidays I took in a short trip to Munich to have my operation on an injury that had niggled away at me for the final few months of last season.
It was an interesting trip. I took my brother along with me and the operation got delayed a day meaning we had a day to kill. We decided to wander around the city and see where it took us. We ended up on the U Bahn to the Olympic Stadium, home to one of, if not the most famous goals in this club’s history.
The stadium isn’t used for football anymore but it is certainly still impressive and my brother tried to get on the pitch (tarmac now) to relive Jeremy Goss’ goal until he heard a big voice boom something that sounded very unpleasant in German! He couldn’t rush back up to the seats quickly enough.
We also visited the BMW museum opposite the Olympic Park where I made a vow to Thomas, a very helpful staff member there that within two years I will own an electric car. That gives me a bit of time to find the right one and for the technology to improve even further.
Back to the football, I hope you enjoy the season ahead and I will do my best through this blog to give you a little insight into what goes on at the club on a monthly basis. Russ.
@NorwichFanPage_ on Twitter: Who was/is your footballing idol, and why?
RM: I admire Cristiano Ronaldo, just because he's the complete footballer. He had a lot of natural ability and he's maximised it to the best he could have done both technically and physically. He can do everything. I started off as a striker, so I used to admire Teddy Sheringham. Tony Adams was another one, and luckily I got to play under him at Wycombe.
Callum Butcher on Facebook: Hello Russ. After retiring from playing football, what would be your further career plans? Would you like to stay within the football industry? Good luck for the new season OTBC.
RM: I want to become a manager, 100%. I will stay in football, I think I've got a lot to offer. I'm doing my coaching badges at the minute so that's something I really want to do.
@I_Am_A_Winger on Twitter: Do you have any superstitions before you start a match?
RM: No not really. I always stick to the same routines the day before and eat the same sort of stuff, but it doesn't bother me if I don't do something a certain way.