Day 4 - Sunday 6th July 2014
So day 4 and halfway through already. There should only be one 7 o'clock in the day on Sunday. It was after midnight last night before I got to bed after completing the diary and getting it sent off to Leighanne and watching the penalty shootout in the World Cup between Holland and Costa Rica. Whilst my whole body didn't particularly want to attack the day my right calf certainly didn't and just like yesterday made sure that my brain was fully aware that it was not in favour of the decision to get up, bless (painful and heroic bless).
On my way to breakfast I pass the treatment room, which was a hive of activity, Jack, BBM and Ash were outside waiting while Joe and Sean were already being tended to. As you can imagine the topic of conversation centred around the Holland/Costa Rica game and Louis Van Gaal’s decision to substitute his keeper at the very end of extra time and bring the Tim Krul on, a great decision that paid off but could have left him looking a little embarrassed. Thorpey was remonstrating about Kruls "gamesmanship" before each penalty was taken to the Costa Rican players but it worked and they won and got away with it, he just upset Thorpey along the way. George and Raff had now arrived and I asked after Raff’s health who politely replied that he was very well and on top of the world, then told the truth and said he a was a stiff as a flipping board, bless (sympathetic and understanding bless).
Continuing the theme of it's not just an adventure, it's also an education I should have perhaps explained who Esther Williams is. What did surprise me was that AK didn't know who she was as I felt it was more his era than mine, or perhaps I'm just a sad man. Esther, bless her (bless full of condolences) only passed away last year having had a good innings through to 91, she was born on the 8th August 1921 in Inglewood, California and was an American Swimmer and Actress. She set multiple regional and national records but missed out on competing in the 1940 Olympics because of the war. She went on to star alongside the likes of Johnny Weissmuller and in the 40's and 50's featured in "aqua musicals" and these featured elaborate synchronised swimming routines. She was also a successful business woman who had three children and saw off four husbands, bless (frightened bless). Anyway back to the plot.
I think the players will have been relieved to open their curtains to an overcast day, although yesterday started like that but just as we started training yesterday morning the clouds parted and the sun beamed through, then as if on a switch, when training had finished yesterday the clouds returned. Today the players were going to be more fortunate as the clouds did stay in situ throughout and only considerately parted after the session finished.
The Gaffer set out his plans for the morning session, which from my point of view were a whole lot easier to explain. After Kevin's warm up session Beechy was going to do a session of ball control, passing and moving with the ball, all centred around cones that he had set out in one area of the pitch. We were then going to move in to the main part of the session for some SSG's (small sided games) the pitch had two full size goals on it with both teams having a goalkeeper added to their outfield team of 6 players. The length of the pitch was about 60 meters and the touch lines had been brought in by about 8 yards on either side and poles had been set to give 3 x 20 yard patrol areas on the touch line that would be operated by the team not involved in the game on the pitch but this team of floaters, 3 on each side of the pitch in the 20 yards patrol areas could assist the team in possession. Switching play was a key part of this session and that's really where the floating players come in to their own. After the first game, which was timed it was score two goals to win the game and the winners stayed on while the losers took up the floating positions on the touch line. One other little characteristic to this session was that on the field were two more floaters in the shape of Hendo in a red bib and the Gaffer himself, these two players, again could assist the team in possession of the ball, which constantly switches the game from a 6 v 6 to a 6v 8, notwithstanding the six floaters on the touch line, told you it was easier to explain. I described the teams as being led by the first names in each team as listed on the Gaffers chart, so Ollie's team was yellow, Rosey's team was orange and Rhys's team were in blue. Beechy was referee again, which isn't easy when the gaffer.
The first game was a cagey affair with no team winning outright and so Beechy changed the teams after about 10 minutes. As the session progressed it was the Blue team (Rhys') team that surprised us as they went on a run of 8 consecutive victories before the orange team ended a very impressive run. The blue team was noticeable because not only was it winning its games but it was noticeable the younger inexperienced team. In addition to Rhys the team consisted of Bastien, Tanz, Andrew, Callum and Joe. The formation that they seemed to have was Rhys, Tanz and Bastien working from the back, Andrew was in midfield and Callum and Joe were up front, they obviously had to move out of these positions at times to press and support but they obviously adapted best to utilising both the floaters in the pitch and those on the touch lines. Joe was slow to get going but then started to knock then in from all angles, Callum supported him well but Andrew linked everything in the blue team from the back to the front and supporting both the attack and the defence. In the session Josh and Steve were in goals as Johnny jarred his knee during goalkeeper warm ups and was being treated by Thorpey, more on treatment in a moment. Other notable moments from the session was the Gaffer scoring a goal and probably had the same smile as when he scored his first ever goal. Peter not having the best of mornings but finishing with two headed goals. Jamie faking for a dummy by the Gaffer, which he knows will cost him and he will not be let to forget but my moment was the slow start to the morning made by BBM, who first of all took out Callum from behind and this was almost like a dummy run as to what was to follow as he took his P45 in his hand and took the Gaffer out from behind, Beechy commented that it was the slowest foul he had ever seen, while I thought the Gaffer went down in instalments.
I mentioned earlier about Johnny (definitely not johnnycake) having treatment on his knee after jarring it in the goalkeeper warm ups. The keepers take quite a battering throughout these sessions both in the warm ups and in the quick tempo of the small sided games, I have to say I though both Josh and Steve were excellent in the games this morning. Thorpey and Gaz were treating players pitch side, in addition to Johnny (not sure why my I-pad predictive text wants to type Johnnycake but it does?, bless) (inquisitive bless). Gaz was doing some manipulating work on Jack’s groin, which got him in to some rather compromising positions, Thorpey also had his TENS (see day 3) on the go and Joel was iced up following his knee irritation. Thorpey gave me a demonstration with the little mobile TENS machine which seeks to guide the muscles in the right direction to help heal the injury. He strapped it to my lower arm and had my fingers relating to the pulses sent through which are like pins and needles but you can't stop your finger from moving as its being moved by the pulses, weird. After Thorpey had sorted Johnny out he put the TENS on my calf muscle and I could feel its sensation in my leg.
The clear winners from this morning’s session was Rhys's blue team and the Gaffer and Beechy were surprised but pleased with their input in to the session but also the overall input to the session which has gone well. There is the banter between the players and the staff and none more so than promoted by the Gaffer, I think we got something about Brasilian sinks yesterday and not throwing the best cups in it because it gets broken, all done to make a point. From the Gaffers address this morning this afternoon’s session sounds as though it is going to be different. We are to have a full size 11 v 11 50 minute game but with a difference, after the Gaffer has split the players in to two squads and chosen the manager and captains it's up to them to decide their own tactics and formations, should be interesting. The session finished around 11.15, which gave me the time to get back to the hotel and be annoyed by the party music being blasted out around the pool while I'm trying to catch up on the diary so I can revert to my normal Sunday afternoon siesta with the diary taken as far as I can at this time of the day.
I can reveal that the Gaffer chose Ollie as one manager with Joe as his captain and Rhys as the other manager with Tanz as his captain. There was to be a reward for the winners and a forfeit for the losers and both managers were player managers. Both managers cancelled all siesta leave and imposed a media blackout while tactics and formations were discussed throughout the afternoon and set pieces were planned with help of the salt and pepper pots etc. with Jack, Joel and Scott working with Thorpey and Gaz, Tony was drafted in to bring experience to what you will see turned out to be a relatively young side. Kick off was 5pm and the lads were up at the ground to get warmed up, weighed and ready for the big match. So to the teams and what I interpreted as the formations.
ASH OLLIE SEAN
CALLUM RHYS BBM TANZ
The warm ups were conducted separately with Kevin looking after one team and Fradders looking after the other. I thinks it's fair to say that the white team were the underdogs with the blue team probably even money favourites although I'm not a gambling man and no of us can bet on football anyway. Beechy was to referee again with Fradders and Kevin again acting as his assistants. I' m not sure who won the toss but then I don't think anyone could answer that for you as Beechy didn't actually do one.
My match summary is that Sean scored what proved to be the winning goal from a corner that arguably wasn't a corner and a foul on the keeper that wasn't acknowledged by the referee, I think Rhys could be on a charge with the FA for post-match comments on the referee. Obviously, aside of BBM and Tony the age of the white team was very young and they can consider themselves a little unlucky as Josh made two excellent saves, Cameron skimmed the cross bar with a free kick, Andrew hit the post and I promised I wouldn't mention his miss from "relatively" close range.
In the post-match analysis the Gaffer gave both managers the opportunity to explain their thoughts on their formations and tactics and how these were implemented by the players in the game. The Gaffer posed certain questions to both managers about why that had chosen to play certain players in certain positions and questioned whether this was making the most of the strengths of those players. Ollie acknowledged that he was unhappy with a number of areas of the play but was content with a win and had learnt lessons from the game. Rhys was quite diplomatic in his assessment of what he wanted to achieve he was looking to hit blues on the break with the young legs of Cameron, Joe, Andrew, Bastien and Jamie supporting Tony up front, he referred to Tony's age but quickly referred to utilising his "experience". Whites were a little unlucky but as Hendo said you don't win anything if you’re unlucky so whites have to buy blues a bottle of champagne but I understand a rematch is on the cards for Tuesday, I doubt this rematch will have the same appeal as Froch/Goves but it will be important to the players.
Kevin warmed the players down and then Fradders weighed all the players and took their assessment of the difficulty of the session, it looked to me as though 7/8 was the average mark although Joe gave it a 10 as his calf muscles were causing him some pain. A number of the players were iced up after the match, Callum and Sean to name two and the latter had both shins iced as these were tender and while his shins were cooling down Thorpey lanced the blood blister below his big toe, bless (cringing bless).
I returned to the hotel just before 7 having enjoyed watching the game but also listening to the analysis afterwards. What was the purpose of the exercise, well aside of footballers playing in a training game and being coached by their manager I think the Gaffer was looking for the players to take ownership and recognise responsibility as well as think of the consequences of their actions.
I had a swim in the hotel pool before dinner - Rhys, Bastien and Joel were down there and BBM joined us later. After most of us had finished our meals and most of the players and staff had dispersed a group of players, Rosey, Hendo, Doney, Ash, Ollie and Sean were talking and flicking about on their phones, they were comparing famous people who came from the same place as them, I asked them what prompted them to do this and Rosey replied that if you spend enough time with Doney this is what happened. I didn't get most of it although I did hear a debate about the person who wrote the Bodyguard but I switched off when Rosey came up with Russell Watson and would you believe John Virgo from Salford. It was time to head off and finish today's diary and ring Mrs G but this got slightly delayed because I had to go to Jack's room to find my undies. Then when I got to my room, what had happened a few times already this week was completed, when I've pulled my phone out of my pocket at the dining table my key card has fallen out of my pocket but I've noticed it and picked it up, today it had obviously happened and I didn't pick it up and now with the lift not working and having got all the way to the west wing the dam key isn't there, bless (annoying bless).
See you tomorrow.