Day 2 at training camp is a landmark day for me, today I will complete my 365th day of no smoking, it was on our return from training camp last year that I finally quit the dreaded weed and now I just wish I'd never started in the first place, feel so much better, bless (resigned but relieved bless).
I had been up from just after 7 pottering about, I even made my own bed thinking this is probably a waste of time as the chambermaid will probably do it properly later on. I went down for breakfast at 8.30 and there was a good helping of staff already down but just a small players representation in the form of Josh, Jack and BBM, other started to surface as the sitting continued.
The day itself started a little overcast but it was still warm at around 23oC and of course not raining. While I was having my breakfast, the treatment room was preparing for the first session with Thorpey and Gaz doing preventative work. Fradders and Kev were loading my car up with kit and equipment and cardboard man, whose nationality is pole ish :-) Our Jack had blown all the balls up the night before, very practical to put his hot air to good use. About 9.15 I headed up to the training ground to unload and help prepare the site for the lads arriving, our Jack was doing what he does best and mothering where there's no need,,bless, (impatient and tolerant bless). The view from the top floor of the T3 Complex looking out over the pitch and to the seas is quite stunning and the pitch is almost quite inviting you to want to go and train on it.
The Gaffer had prepared his plans for the session and these were on the flip chart. Kevin was about to embark on his first overseas training camp warm up and Steve was looking after the goalkeepers. The lads are encouraged to cream up before the sessions and particularly those like me and Joe who have fair skin, although mine is nowhere near as sensitive as Joe, he actually put three layers of factor 50 on all over. Fradders and Kevin weighed the lads before and after the session and the "spy above the thigh" the Polar belts for monitoring a players output are clipped on to their belt around the players’ chest.
On the board the gaffer had already picked his three teams, each was to be of 8 each side plus the keepers with the Gaffer involved with two of the teams. The board detailed the teams and the formations, and emphasised the purpose of the sessions in that he was looking for shape, in and out of possession, retain and regaining possession and to show away from goal to protect the centre of the pitch.
The Gaffer cracked me up when Jack was asking what time he wanted the ice down and the gaffer inquisitively asked that it wouldn't melt would it, and I knew what he meant but it prompted me to put out a call for non-melting ice.
After Kevin had done the warm up session the Gaffer took over with the next part of the session where the balls come in to play. The players are in pairs and it's a gentle session of touch and passing with the players moving in and out from each other to cover various distances. Throughout the players get an equal agony of critique and encouragement from the Gaffer so that you are always on your toes.
The main part of the session is on half a pitch but with full size goals and cones about 5 yards in from each touch line, the goalkeepers are brought in to the session and two teams compete while the other team is with Beechy in the other half of the pitch. Beechy's session looked to be about stamina and control as he had 7/8 players with a ball each in possession around one half of the pitch and he increased and decreased the tempo of the movement throughout.
With half an eye on what Beechy was doing and watching the Gaffer’s session I was particularly interested in the debutant boys. I've seen Andrew play a few times so I know what he can do and I liken him very much to Jamie. I have also seen quite a bit of Callum so I knew he would fit in well. I haven't seen much in terms of playing time from Sean but his stature and the fact that he was with us at the end of last season makes it seem as though he has been around a while and he is so assured. Cameron Park impressed me in these short sessions, he looked very skilful on the ball and has plenty of pace and a good touch, he got one cross in from deep in the corner when it looked as though there was nowhere to go but it was a quality delivery with his left foot. Jonny was the one I was interested in mostly as he is the youngest of the new boys and while I have seen him play this is now at a different level. He has an amazing stature, which gives him that presence that you need to be a goalkeeper and during the session he pulled off some really good saves, he contributed well and certainly didn't look out of place. I could help noticing a neat finish from Joel, who cut in from the right and curled a pacey ball in to the far corner.
The morning session finished with Kevin giving the lads some warm down exercises and then he and Fradders took all the players weights and loaded them with recovery drinks. We tidied up the site and then headed back to the hotel for a shower before lunch at 1.30.
Our programme editor, Mark Wilbraham had again given me a couple of questionnaires to get the players and staff to fill in ready for him using them in next year’s programme. I started to hand these out at lunch and asked them to full them in. Now it would be unfair on Mark to give too much away but one of the questions asks about honours in the game, Rosey was quick to point out that the box for the answer to go in was nowhere near big enough for him to list all his honours, I told him to go on to go on to separate prices of paper to get them all on and gave him another pen in case that one ran out. I've got quite a few of the questionnaires back already and there are some interesting questions and some interesting answers but I will let Mark reveal all in due course. Meal of the week, so far, was gathered together by our new fitness and condition coach Kevin who defied gravity to get so much on his platen and he certainly wasn't lacking stamina when he gathered that lot on his plate, bless (growing lad, admiration bless) . Not to be outdone his partner in crime, Fradders was very indecisive over which of the meats and fish to have so he saved his brain from burnout and had them all. After lunch the lads had the three R's time, rest, relax and recover, then be ready for 5pm when the second session gets underway.
I spent the afternoon checking my emails, typing the diary, reading and just a little bit of the 3 R's although quite what I was recovering from is still to be determined. The lads had been told to report for 4.30 ready for a 4.45 start. The Gaffer was at his flip chart explains the session which was similar to the morning session but there seemed a significant difference in the work that Beechy was to cover. Kevin started the session with his warm ups commencing with a gentle jogg around the pitch. The second part of the session was the close ball work with possession, retention and retention all key parts of the exercise. The lads are in teams of seven with a good mix of positions, defenders, midfielders and forwards. The exercise takes place in three separate squares, which are coned at at 10, 12 and 15 meters square, each team operates in one square with 5 of the team in possession and the other two closing them down, when one of the two gains possession the one losing possession changes places with his conqueror, the exercise is quite frantic and when the Gaffer blows time the teams rotate the size of the square that they operate in.
The main part of the session was a continuation of the morning with two teams competing on one half of the pitch with full size goals and two keepers, Steve joined Jonny for this part and Josh went with Beechy. On Beechy's pitch,which ears the width of the penalty area, about 15 meters short of half a pitch with full size goals on the goal line and then three mini goals similar in size to ice hockey nets spread out on the shortened goal line. The one team of 7 players were split in the main so that the defenders, three of them were working with Josh and the four midfielders/forwards were attacking the full size goal,. Stay with me because now it gets complicated, on the touch lines are Fradders and Kevin but on the pitch is Tony and the defending players can use these three players to help bring the ball out of defence and score in the mini goals. I think Tony liked this as he spent most of the session goal hanging. Beechy was feeding balls in as they went out of play and was also limiting the amount of time that the ball could be passed to Josh. It was fast and furious but you can see how it all comes together.
Having got a good idea of what was taking place I decided to have an hour in the gym, which is on the third floor and the treadmills, bicycles and cross trainers are all facing the windows and overlooking the pitch so I could still keep an eye on what was going on. The teams all had a turn with Beechy as well as the short sided game with the Gaffer. At the end the Gaffer was at his board again dissecting the session and this was followed with Kevin's warm downs. I did my own warm down but then after an hour in the gym I got to about the third stair on the way back down and my right calf muscle ripped open, bless (painful bless). I hobbled down the rest of the stairs and collected my personal stuff and headed back to the hotel. I waited for Gaz and Thorpey at the treatment room but wondered if they'd gone for a shower so I decided to have a little swim and thought that might help. Jonny, Bastien and Rhys with his mobile, granted in the shallow end were in the pool and Andrew and Callum came down soon after. After bid showered and dressed for dinner I made my way back to the treatment room and found Gaz and Thorpey who examined said and told me I'd be out for 3/4 weeks.
During dinner I managed to get a few more questionnaires out to those I'd missed earlier. We were now el fresco for dinner on the patio and at tables of four although there wasn't much conversing as everyone seems more content these days to be sat there on their phones. Kevin's appetite was obviously not satisfied at lunch time so he was giving that task another good effort. After dinner quite a few of the lads went in to the main lounge to watch the Brasilia/Colombia game, we had missed the Germany/France game earlier as we had been training. I went up to my room to put my feet up, catch up,on the diary as well as casting an odd eye over the football and phoning Mrs G. Who said men can't multitask?!
Catch you tomorrow.