I had a much better night’s sleep last night thanks to my two mattresses and four pillows but woke up with a bang as I fell out of bed, that’s a hell of a way to fall. Shower, shave and breakfast followed. I had a quiet breakfast with the Chairman who was the only one in the dining room although Joel drifted in a little later.
After breakfast it was collect the laptop ready for going up to the training ground for 9am. I slapped on the old factor 50 and collected AK and Lundy (new name to add) from reception and headed up to the training centre. Again, the view from the reception area on the fifth floor to the pitch level was magnificent with the sun gleaming off the velvet turf and all the equipment set out for the morning session. The set up looked the same as elements of yesterday’s session so it looked as though there would be a lot of possession work. JB was feeling better this morning and was ready to re-join the rest of the squad, that just left Lundy with his foot in ice but he was getting treatment from the Fizz and was preparing to do some light training.
As JB was back in the fold he was going to play a key role in the session as one of the neutral players. The rest of the group were split up in to teams of four and we had the grid of about 30 meters on one area with the full size goals set up in another area and the keepers would be working with the teams in this area.
The Gaffer did the warm up today and this started with each of the players having a ball at their feet in one quarter of the pitch. The instructions was to warm up slowly by dribbling the ball around the area, as this part of the warm up progressed the Gaffer gave different instructions as to what to do with the ball. JB was in the sights of the Gaffer who looked to lighten the mood at JB’s expense. JB had suffered heat exhaustion the day before and the Gaffer likened him to a Vampire, he reckons he has the teeth to be a vampire and is afraid of the sunlight, JB took it well. Thorpey wants Chocolate Bunney added to the list as it melts in the sunlight.
The session was again quite intense. The players know they have to perform for themselves, their team mates, the Gaffer and the rest of the staff. The Gaffer, Beechy and Tony are all positive people and they promote positivity in the players. I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said that there was no criticism during the sessions and in the main the players know when they’ve made a mistake, but the Gaffer and the rest of the staff look to turn any negatives in to a positive.
At the end of the session the Gaffer was full of praise and realism about how the players had performed. The Gaffer handed the players over to Rossie who had been to set up one of his famous but very unpopular circuits down at the bottom gym. Rossie took the players off to curse him as they went around his masochistic circuit and stretch routines.
I spoke with Beechy after the session to see how he thought the players had performed. In terms of the goalkeepers Josh gets a BPB for some outstanding saves during the session. The outfield player taking the BPB was JB, not because he was subject to a little mickey taking earlier in the session, but for realising that the pressure was on him, that he was under the microscope, that he was playing a key role in the session and he listened to the Gaffer’s philosophy of not feeling sorry for himself and responding in a positive manner and putting in a very good performance.
Now Wednesday and Sundays are my gym days and today was not going to be any different other than I had a choice of gyms, yesterday I used the bottom gym and today I thought I would go and have a look at the top gym. The top gym was on the third floor and while Ross had the players doing their circuits and stretches me, AK, the Gaffer and Keith Senior all decided to have a session in the gym.
As I got out of the lift I was faced with the Gaffer and his Dad just finishing climbing the stairs and I realised at that moment that I wasn’t going to get through the next 30 seconds of my life without some sarcastic comment from Keith. Sure enough he was straight in to me “I can’t believe you’ve just taken the lift three floors to go to do a session in the gym”, “what’s that all about”, “are you for real” and maybe a few other comments that I can’t remember or are unprintable. My thinking was along the lines of the facility of the lift is there, why not use it, or why burn up energy that you know you are going to need when you get in there. Anyway with a guilty feeling I set about a session on the bike and the treadmill. The top gym again has fantastic facilities and sat on the bike or working on the treadmill you are facing the windows that overlook the pitch and it has a great view. I couldn’t help noticing the Gaffer sneaked on the treadmill that was in front of the open window with a nice refreshing breeze blowing through it.
While the squad had been involved in the main session Rhys had been involved in the warm ups and the non-contact ball work but then sat out the physical contact part of the exercise. Thorpey was working with Lundy and had set him up his own little obstacle course to give him some light training on his own. It is important not to rush an injury and Thorpey is charged with making sure the injured players are absolutely ready before they join in with the rest of the squad.
The session finished just before 12 noon so it was pack up time and a chance to start the daily diary and go for a swim in the pool. Some of the lads were relaxing on the sunbeds around the pool while a few of the other players joined me and Beechy for a refreshing swim. From the pool it was straight in to the shower and then dress for lunch. I did catch Fradders and Rossie having a 5 minute break, which is something they don’t get much of.
Dan and Ross are usually the first two down at the training ground preparing everything for when the players arrive and they are usually the last to leave. Ross does his set up as the Strength and Conditioning Coach and works well with Dan who is our Performance Analyst. These two guys, and Ross in particular, are not the most popular guys amongst the staff. No player likes their Strength and Conditioning Coach as he just inflicts pain on them. Dan doesn’t get escape the unloved category free either as he analyses the Polar belts and can see how the players are performing and reports back to the Gaffer and the rest of the management team. Dan and Ross are the Young Guns of the backroom staff and their contribution can’t be underestimated because what they are actually doing is loving and looking after the players. Dan and Ross have spent hours mixing drinks for the players and warm ups and warm downs are done for the benefit of the players to ensure they are in the best possible condition to be able to participate to their best in the training sessions and matches.
Lunch was at 1pm and after lunch the Gaffer, the Chairman, AK and I met with a group of the players for a meeting, which was very productive. As a club it is important that we consult with each other as we all know that we have one main objective in mind and that is to win promotion in the coming season. There is a long road ahead to achieving that ambition and we all need to be on the same page as there will be many elements throughout the course of the season, that will go towards attaining our goal and a mature consultation is a part of that process and I’m sure is appreciated by all. Some of the lads used the R & R time after lunch to watch the British Grand Prix.
The hours of 1pm to 3pm over here are very traditional and are the hours of siesta, we have a similar tradition in the Garlick household on a Sunday. I was aware that yesterday I got my timetable a little wrong and was chasing to be at the training ground for 5pm. That was after I had opted for siesta ahead of typing the diary and checking my emails. Today I have taken the view that siesta time will be more enjoyable if I know I’ve done all the work I can do before recharging the batteries, so at this point I am pleased I have been disciplined and can now enjoy siesta knowing everything is up to date. See you later.
I was back up at the training ground before 5pm ready for the evening s session to begin. Thorpey and Gaz had been on duty during the afternoon looking after the injured players and then preparing the other players ahead of the session.
Rossie was back in charge of warm ups and stretches and he received a compliment from Cav for coming up with a new obstacle course to warm the lads up. The Gaffer made sure Ross gave a physical demonstration as to what he was looking for from the players rather than just talking them through it and describing what to do.
Beechy took over from Ross and had the lads working in a quarter of the pitch with half the players spread out on the edge of the grid as servers and the other half of the squad inside the grid performing a number of exercises with the ball and utilising the servers on the edge of the grid. One of the exercises involved the servers delivering a high ball to be headed followed by a low bouncing ball for the players to perform a diving header. This part of Beechy’s exercise gave some concern to the Gaffer as he warned Beechy about cutting up his pitch. After the first round of headers the Gaffer again warned Beechy to be careful with his pitch and told him there was no way that he was going to invite Beechy to his bar-b-que.
We then moved in to the main part of the session, which was set up on half a pitch with full size goals and both keepers involved. There were markers 10 meters in from the touchline. The teams were split in to three lots of 7. The neutral team were placed one on each touchline and one on each goal line either side of the goal with the remaining member of the team operating in a central area on the pitch and working with the team in possession of the ball. This central lone position looked very difficult to me as you can be playing with one team one minute and they then loose possession and all of a sudden you are playing in the other direction with the other team. The other six members of the neutral team again operating outside the pitch work with the team in possession of the ball. To start with the games were 6 minutes duration and each team had the opportunity to be the neutral team.
When the first game kick off young Jamie Allen was the neutral player operating inside the pitch and he was involved in the move of the game with a brilliant final run in to space where he was found with a perfect pass by Tutty and Jamie rounded the keeper to score a goal.
The Chairman, Keith Senior and I are the ball and obviously the Chairman is the Head Ball Boy. Yesterday he got quite possessive over a ball I went to retreat when he was already on his way and out came the comment “where did you come from”, well Mr Chairman I’ve just got back from buying some water at the Supermercado, sorry. Today he didn’t pull rank on a ball that went over the high fence and finished up on the 4G pitch, he seemed quite happy to delegate this one to me, but I’ve learnt this delegation thing as well and passed it on to Jack.
This was a great session that went in to winner stays on after a goal is scored once the full circuit of 6 minute games had been completed a couple of times. In the session as well as the great team goal that Jamie scored, Bastien scored a rasping goal and showed he can dribble, tackle and lay off a pass, quite impressed with him. George finished top of the goal scoring charts on 4 while JB grabbed a couple and it was good to see Reece bagging a brace. One of the Hazard twins HT1, I think it was hit the hardest shot I’ve seen and this was superbly tipped over by Stevie Collis. I will focus on the goal keepers later in the week. But my BPB goes to Lois Maynard, Lois plays as a central defender and is in a position that doesn’t get the same glory that the midfielders and strikers often enjoy but his reading off the game and defending today was quite eye catching. The Chairman commented that Lois could head a ball a whole lot further than he can kick it, and he can.
Rossie took the lads for the warm down and this was a bit of improvisation from the backroom staff as they set up that old favourite the “ice bath”, first in was Cav and Bobby, followed by Hogie. No splashing allowed.
After helping tidy up it was back to the hotel for dunk number 4 of the day. I collected a further 3 passengers in addition to AK and BBM, Hogie and Tutty were very grateful of a lift after another tough session. This started me thinking that there could be money making opportunity here by either offering lifts to the three highest bidders or going for the mass market and running a shuttle bus.
Dinner was at 8pm and after dinner I met with Jack and we headed off for a walk along the seafront heading in the same direction that the Gaffer, Keith Senior, AK and Tony had taken earlier. On our travels we met up with the Chairman and did meet up with the others at a little establishment on the other side of the bay. Our conversations soon got to a new low as Jack got involved and started to talk about some hair brained scheme to smuggle duty free contraband back in to the country and make a killing, I’m not too sure that it would work out for Jack as he struggled with the financial side of his little scam. He did however succeed in annoying me in a lot less time than it took him last night
so I decided to take him back to the hotel and put him to bed for the night.
At 10pm I gave Mrs G a call. Why is it that I love you too, makes you feel as though you are on the defensive and leaves you feeling guilty? After the, I miss you too, which is also leaves the defensive and guilty feeling it was time to finish the diary before turning in for the night.
Looking forward to tomorrow as I think the stakes will to be upped if the progression of the last few days is anything to go by. See you tomorrow.