Leighanne Ball, the club's media officer, brings you the lowdown of day two in Tenerife...
Day two, four sessions in…
As I write this we’re coming to the end of day two (Saturday) and the lads have now completed four sessions.
Today was a tough day for the players. From a by-stander point of view, training seemed to have gone up a notch from yesterday, and by the end of the second session there were a lot of weary legs, and aches and pains.
Despite the ice-packs and the blisters, the mood in the camp is still very buoyant and the players are in really good spirits. They’re obviously not going to enjoy every minute of it, and there are probably times when they come very close to breaking point, but this week away should hopefully help them roll into an enjoyable season, because they’ll be prepared for it.
Like yesterday, there were two sessions today. One in the morning, the other late in the afternoon – we, well the players, train when the temperatures are at their lowest, although the weather out here, no matter what time of day, is absolutely roasting!
The morning session focused on retaining and regaining the ball, and the Gaffer was very clear with his message as he delivered the session plan to the players. He wanted intensity and he wanted energy.
He was keen to hammer home the philosophy of the way that we play regardless of the formation, and he wanted the players to deliver that by getting the processes right.
Every session starts with a run around the track, stretches, then a football based warm-up. Today the players were split into groups of four, in a 3v1 scenario. This was designed around pressing and finishing.
For the main part of the session, there were five teams, across two areas of the pitch. At one end, two teams of four played each other in a small area, while two teams of five went up against each other using one half of the pitch. The teams rotated throughout and there was always one team resting, if you like. These players acted as bounce players for the 4v4 games, as described in yesterday’s diary. The games were played at a very high tempo and were very, very competitive, almost a little bit feisty, as the players got stuck in.
The Chairman was the first to pull out of a tackle… chasing down a perceived loose ball, he quickly realised he’d stepped beyond the cones and was now in fact part of the 5v5 session as Calvin came bounding towards him. There was only ever going to be one winner!..
The Gaffer was in fine form as usual and his one liners were never in short supply.
Did you know that Harrison and Joe Raff have got some great dance moves? Well, the Gaffer reckons they could give the Inbetweeners a run for their money.
We also found out that as a boy he had egg on toast and a bottle of milk every day, in case you were wondering. It might sound like a really random thing to blurt out on the training pitch, but the fact is he wanted simple, effective football during the session, nothing fancy.
What’s your favourite Hill-ism? A wise man once said nothing has definitely got to be mine and I swear by it since I first heard him use it many years ago. It made an appearance today – and Russ and the Chairman agreed it was one of the best ones they’d heard, so it got me thinking, which one is yours? Because there have been many over the years!
The afternoon session was an 11v11 game on a full size pitch, which really does push and test the players, particularly in this heat.
The key messages were the same as this morning, and it was again based around retain and regains but just on a bigger scale. The Gaffer wanted an urgency to the play and told the players that it was all about winning.
The play and the way the players moved the ball about the pitch was a joy to watch and I must admit that I’m really excited about the squad of players that has been assembled and the season ahead.
The session lasted around an hour and a half, so tea followed at 7.30pm, but that wasn’t it for the night – the work never really stops for the backroom staff.
As I left the dining room at 8.30pm, I walked past the conference suite where the Gaffer was leading an analysis session with the players. They were looking over the footage from today, which had been processed and analysed by Kev Gibbins and Callum Jones.
A couple of rooms up from the conference suite in the same corridor, Thorpey and Gaz were waiting to see anyone who might need a rub down, treatment or have their blisters looked at. As the days go on, these two, the club’s physios, get busier and busier pre and post session.
In addition to today’s diary, there are interviews with Keith Keane and Jim McNulty on iFollow and YouTube, and you can read written versions later today. Both talk really, really well and it was great to hear what they had to say about pre-season and the trip so far. There’s also a gallery of images from day two, and you’ll be able to watch highlights from today’s sessions on iFollow and YouTube on Sunday.
As always, the time is fast approaching midnight and my alarm is set for 6am, so it’s time for me to put the laptop to one side and grab some sleep.
See you tomorrow,
Leighanne Ball (I got married this summer, for those wondering why the sudden surname change!)