The final diary from CEO in Tenerife
Day 7 Thursday 9th July 2014
I'm sure I got to bed earlier than Phil Scolari and had a better nights kip, even on this slab that they call a bed, we all have our problems, wonder if he will have resigned by the time this gets published, 1-7 on your own patch in a World Cup semi-final is a freak result but, don't panic, it could be worse.
I had a really weird dream last night, which would you believe involved me playing in goal for the England women's team against the German women's team, in the game we went a goal down against the strong favourites in some important game, against the odds we scored an equaliser and then all I can remember was me playing for time by trying to chat up the German forwards, don't tell Mrs G about that bit, it was really weird and I'm not sure where the dream went from there, I probably woke up.
I was on my way to breakfast at 7.45 and stopped off at the treatment room, which was a hive of activity, Ollie was waiting for treatment as was Jack, Lundy and Joe who were already on the beds with the Gaffer and Beechy were also casting their eyes over proceedings.
I had breakfast with AK and we discussed the game from the previous evening and generally tried to put the world to rights. We made our way up to the training ground for 8.45am for the morning training session, which was to include Doney who was feeling more like himself and ready to resume training. Unfortunately Joe had suffered a back pain and didn't get much sleep in the night so Gaz had him on the bed and was doing some manipulation on his back.
The warm up area had been carefully prepared by Kevin and Fradders and Steve had set up his area for the keepers to work in with the main pitch had been prepared by the Gaffer and Beechy with the help of the Chairman and Tony. The warm up session included a variety of exercises both with the ball and without and involved jumps and sprints ant turns through the equipment that included poles, cones, ladders, hurdles etc. the next part of the session was possession squares in the corner of the pitch between the penalty area line and the touch line and then coned from the goal line to the edge of the penalty area to create an area 10m x 18m, there were two areas one on each side of the penalty area, there were two team of 8 players in each square and then two of these players were separated in to a 6 v 2 scenarios and the 6 had to keep possession while the two players pressed them, then on the signal from the Gaffer the two players had to sprint across to the other area on the other side of the pitch and press again against the other 6 players, these were done in 3 minute sets and each player rotated to be a member of the two player team.
At about 10.30 I bought a house back in the UK, I got a call from Bill who is doing our legal work to say he was in a position to exchange contracts and wanted to check that we had the buildings insurance in place as he didn't want to exchange and then the house burn down tonight, to let you in to a little secret neither did I. I managed to get on to my current contents insures who have done both our buildings and contents insurance in the past and get building cover on the new purchase. I then phone Bill to confirm I'd managed to arrange cover and he went off to do the exchange with the seller’s solicitors and soon afterwards he phoned me back to say it's all done. Absolutely amazing to think you can spend tens of thousands of pounds on your house from so far away but it has been about 18 moths of stress, frustration and expense in the making. I was going to phone Mrs G to tell her that we'd completed but she’d only want to talk about furniture and all that stuff so don't tell her about that either, bless (deceitful bless).
Back to the main part of the session and the theme of the morning, which was possession and pressing. The training area for this exercise was a 40 metre square playing area with poles at each of the four corners, also along each line was cones at 10 metre intervals. The Gaffer had split the teams in to the following: BLUE TEAM: McGinty, Doney, Tanz, Hendo, Bastien, Andrew, Callum and Scott. WHITE TEAM: Rosey, Raff, Jamie, Rhys, Cameron, BBM, Peter and George. The two teams of 8 players a side would start in the main area of the square and look to retain possession whilst being pressed on that possession by the other team who were looking to regain possession.
At different times the Gaffer would halt the play and then at first one of the teams would rest while the other teams split into pairs of players on each of the lines and do sprints to each of the four cones on their lines, turning at each cone and sprinting back and then moving on to the next cone, if I've done my maths correctly that would be a total of 200 meters for each complete run but the Gaffer could vary this, which he did. If you think about the first team going off to do their set of sprints while one team rested, arguably it was then harder for the team doing the sprints to come back to the main area and either regain or retain the possession. The Gaffer did vary who was doing what sprints and when to the point that at one stage he had four blues and four whites both resting but then also competing in pairs on the line at the sprints. This segment lasted for 60 minutes and prior to the warm down the squad was split in to two groups with one groups practicing the set and finish routine while the others worked on heading.
While we were packing up the banter continued and Gaz made reference to Thomas Cromwell, which I thought would be a good topic for our daily, it's not just an adventure it's an education. Thomas Cromwell, born in 1485 served as first minister to the then Monarch who just happened to be King Henry VIII, he arranged a number of marriages and then annulments to satisfy the King but in the end he was executed on the 28th July 1540 for treason and heresy. I made my way back to the hotel and waited for Thorpey and Gaz to arrive back at the treatment room and after they had treated a few players, I managed to get back on Gaz's bed and he worked his magic on my calf muscle again. My afternoon was a whole lot busier than I had anticipated and I spent most of the afternoon, either on the phone or on the laptop working and sorting emails, I totally disrespected the local siesta tradition and I didn't even get a chance to open the Kindle and read my book. The afternoon had passed in no time and just after 4.30pm we were heading back up to the training ground for the final session of our training camp week.
The ground was set out and I could see cones in one half of the pitch, two sets of full size goals in the other half and then three areas of cones and or poles on each side of the pitch next to the part of the pitch with the goals and some off the pitch behind the goals. The Gaffer had chosen the teams again, which were not too different from this morning, Ash came back and the Gaffer put Scott, into a floating role. So after Kevin's warm ups we moved in to the second session where Beechy had set out a series of cones with a variety of distances between each of them, this was to a Passing exercise across the distances of 10,15 and 20 yards which was designed in the first instance to encourage the soft touch followed by the fast pass, through the players had to pass and replace, which means they move to fill the space left by a team mate who has passed and moved to receive another pass and then filled the gap. The main part of the session was very intense with a good mixture of activity. The teams would compete on the pitch that was only as wide as the penalty areas with two full size sets of goals, one of them in the normal place the other with its back support bar just touching the centre circle.
The two teams of 8 were joined by the keepers, Josh, Johnny and Scott were the floating players who could assist the team in possession of the ball making it 9 v 8 outfield players and Scott could score for either side. The Gaffer fed the game at whatever point the ball went dead and he does this in a number of ways, short, long or just having a go at goal himself. The cones and poles outside the field have different distances associated to them, one course has the poles 50 metres apart, one course has them 25 metres apart and the other course has them at 5 metres apart times 4 where you run to the first set of cones, turn and go back and then progress to the second set and so on.
The games are 8 minutes in duration and there are five of those, between the games the two teams go to one of the coned courses to do sprints, the staff are posted on each course to make sure all the players go all the distance as well as shouting encouragement and these are rotated between each game as directed by the Gaffer. The object of the games are, naturally to score goals and win but the Gaffer and Beechy are looking for players to press, block and intercept as well as pass and move, you are allowed to tackle but the encouragement to not overcommit yourself and not go to ground is the prospect of having to do another 100 metres on the sprints. In terms of the games the results were:
(White team from this morning now in Orange)
1-1 Jamie for orange and Andrew for blues
3-1 to the blues, Cameron for orange, Scott, Callum and the Gaffer for blues.
3-1 to the blues again, Scott for orange, Bastien and a Callum brace for blues.
2-2 Raff and Scott for orange, Andrew brace for blues.
5-3 to blues, orange scorers, Jamie, Peter and Scott, blues scorers Andrew hat-trick, Bastien and Tanz.
Overall that is 14-8 to the blues and yes the Gaffer serving from the side for the blues but then he so he should have done as he had enough attempts while serving the restarts. The session was fast and furious, serious but enjoyable, it appeared to be the sprints that were the killer of this session and I think the spread was designed to achieve 1600 metres between the games. This was a hard session and was marked accordingly by the players and was marked as the second hardest session of the week. Kevin did the warm down, Fradders did the final weigh in of the week and the Gaffer gave his summary of the week as well as emphasise what he was looking for in the pre-season games over the next four weeks and ahead of the Football League kick-off on the 9th August.
The staff started to prepare to break camp, which we will do in two parts, we will get some of our equipment back to the hotel tonight and for instance start to deflate our balls ready for packing tomorrow, we intend to go back up to T3 tomorrow morning to finish off and thank the staff. It was almost 8 pm when I got back to my room and too late for a swim again so I settled for a shower and changed for dinner. All the lads were in the dining room in a sombre mood although the same couldn't be said for Hendo’s shirt. In previous years I have run a competition for the most horrendous swimming shorts, this year’s completion never got off the ground as there was nothing horrendous enough to come close to previous winners. Now Hendo's shirt is worthy of a new competition of the camps most horrendous shirt and is a worthy winner. Another winner tonight was Johnny who successfully challenged and beat Kevin's world record of how many scoops of ice cream you can get in to a standard dessert bowl, he too defied gravity to steal this record. After dinner I called in to Our Jack's room to help him let down the balls but he'd already done them so I went to my room to watch the Argentina v Holland game, not quite as entertaining on the goal front. I also gave in and rang Mrs G despite knowing the conversation would descend to furniture and the like.
This is the last diary from this year’s training camp as we head back to the UK tomorrow. It will also be the last ever Training Camp Diary from yours truly as I've decided to retire from International Daily Diary Writing, it's been fun while it lasted and an absolute privilege, like other years to be on this year’s camp and bring you an insight as to how the team go about their business and the camaraderie in a great squad of players and staff. I must pay a special mention to the staff who work in the background and often go unseen but I do appreciate the work put in by the likes of Jack, Thorpey, Gaz, Fradders and Kevin to help prepare and support the players in trying to achieve what we all want them to achieve. The players have worked very hard on the training camp giving their all in the structured sessions set for them by the Gaffer, Beechy and the rest of the coaching staff, last year we were well prepared and got our rewards over a long and successful season, here's hoping for the same again.