Mark Robson outlines the coach's blueprint for pre-seasonPLAYERS RETURNING IN GOOD SHAPE
“A lot of is down to them, because when they’re away from the Club it’s up to them to look after themselves and follow the programmes that are given to them by the sports science guys. I don’t think it’s very taxing – I think it’s just to keep them in a suitable state so that when they come back in they’re not thrown in at the deep end.
“Every one of our lads came back in great shape, and I think obviously Nick (Davies, Head of Sports Science) and his team are very pleased with that, and of course that made us pleased because on the coaching side it made what we wanted to do a lot easier.
“They know they’re coming in to work hard. They know there are things that you don’t want to do, but you have to because obviously at the end of it there are rewards for it in terms of their fitness levels – the fitter you are, the more you’re going to catch the eye of the manager. Each and every one of them have been egging each other on and pushing themselves to the limit, so that in amongst it all has been very good.”
FOSTERING OF THE ESSENTIAL TEAM SPIRIT
“Going away during pre-season is important. We went to St George’s Park after a couple of days, and of course we’ve come to Italy. In that time, the players get to know each other and the new players get to know the rest of the group. They have to sing a little song on their first trip, so we’ve had a little bit of fun with that. We all sit down for meals together, the lads go for walks around the town and have shared coffees and ice-creams and things like that! I think that getting to know each other is a really important part.
“As a coach, creating team spirit is something you learn as you go along. You think about your own experiences you had when you played and with other clubs that you’ve been working at, and you can sometimes use those experience to your advantages and bed in into the squad that you’ve got. The key is getting it to that stage where they want to play for each other."
GETTING THE TACTICAL MESSAGE ACROSS
“The players have to know what it is expected of them, and you make that clear early on. For the first couple of days here, we did some stuff about playing out from the back and touched on a few key points. Of course, games are different – games vary, and sometimes the opposition don’t let you do certain things, and then it’s a case of having to change.
"Often on the pitch players can see that; you try and give them different scenarios that might happen, and then it’s down to them to see that themselves. If they have that understanding of the work that’s been put upon them without taking away their individuality, that’s perfect. There are a few key points that we have embedded in the group and what we will continue to instil throughout the season."
STOPPING THE CROCK
“When the lads have had a fair bit of time off, they start coming back into it and the ground’s a little bit harder at this time of year, and it can cause tenderness around certain parts of their bodies like their ankles and knees. Any injury you don’t want, but you understand that there are going to be little niggles that can’t be avoided. As long as they’re only little niggles and we can manage them, then that’s great. Fingers crossed that’s the case for us.”