Hard-work, commitment and endeavour. I’m sure you’ll have heard the Gaffer use these words on many occasions.
This is what he demands and most definitely expects, and we’ve had no shortage of those traits this week.
I’m in agreeance with Jim McNulty who summed up the attitude of the players magnificently in yesterday’s interview. The work-rate has been 100-percent and it’s evident that there’s a fantastic squad spirit, with everyone willing to work hard for the good of the team.
There’s a real determination to get it right, coupled with plenty of enthusiasm during the sessions. There’s also a great energy, despite a lot of tired bodies and minds.
As you may have picked up on in my previous diary accounts, there have been several 11v11 games on the full sized pitch since we arrived in Tenerife. It’s not an easy task going straight into 11v11 scenarios during the first week of pre-season training, which says a lot about the fitness of the players. It’s clear they’ve come back for the new season in good shape and hungry to push on for the start of the 2016-17 campaign.
Is the Gaffer the true inspiration behind it all? Well, Colin seems to think so. After arriving at the training ground, Colin, out of the blue, started the morning by telling the Gaffer that he inspired him. Now, I’m not exactly sure why he’s an inspiration as Colin didn’t go on to divulge such details. Slightly caught off guard and slightly confused by such praise, “that’s beautiful” was all the Gaffer could offer as a reply.
This ‘love in’ continued as Colin recalled a t-shirt he’d spotted in a shop earlier in the week with - I’M THE BOSS – DO IT MY WAY – emblazoned across the front. Colin had considered it as an ideal gift for Keith, but hadn’t loved it enough to part with his cash. The Gaffer was a bit disappointed he hadn’t landed himself a new purchase.
Anyway, today was our last full day, as we’ll leave La Caleta at around 6pm tomorrow night (Wednesday) to catch our flight home.
With the hours ticking down towards our departure, there was plenty crammed into today’s sessions, including a lot of running, both disguised and not so disguised. Ball work, passing sequences, retaining and regaining the ball, and a split down the middle of the squad to work on specifics were all on the agenda today.
There was also an 8v8v8 on a small quadrant of the pitch which fascinated me. The players were split into three groups of eight, with one team placed around the outside (they could affect the game), one team in the middle, while the other group were the runners. This was rotated during the session. The runners would enter the pitch, trying to get the ball off the opposition, who could use the players on the outside as an extra targets to pass to keep play flowing. Once achieved by the runners, they’d set off on a short, fast paced run through a pre-marked course before having to do it all again. It was testing and most definitely required a lot of stamina.
In addition, the defenders came together as a group, as did the forwards, with the midfielders split across the two groups for the final part of the session. Beechy took charge of the forwards, while the Gaffer coached the other group. The forwards finished with a bit of shooting practice, and Johny Diba, who was in goal, worked extremely hard during this part of the session. He looked absolutely drained by the end of it and I wondered if he’d make it back down the hill to the hotel at one point. A hug from his mate Josh sorted him out, though.
We now have just one session left in Tenerife, with the squad due at the T3 for an 8.30am start. Be prepared to work hard was the message from the Gaffer and Beechy, so it looks like the players are in for another tough morning before we return to England!
For those of you who may have missed it, I received the confirmed admission prices for our first pre-season friendly of the summer, which takes place on Tuesday. You’ll find the prices for the game v AFC Fylde on the website. In addition, don’t forget that the game is being played at Kellamergh Park – Fylde will move into their new ground at the start of the season.
With the alarm set for 5.45am, I bid you goodnight.