Brian Barry-Murphy has labelled his side’s pre-season trip to Portugal as a hugely beneficial week.
The Dale manager was pleased with his players’ efforts and application throughout an intense week of warm weather training.
“It was a fantastic week,” said Barry-Murphy.
“In pre-season, you hear everybody saying how good and productive it was, but it was.
“The lads’ effort and application was extraordinary really, and they put a huge amount of effort into it.
“As a result of that, there was a lot of tiredness towards the end of the week. But even so, we kept pushing for more and the players gave us everything.
“So we’ve now got a brief chance to recharge the batteries and freshen them up before we go into a busy schedule of games where they can start to really focus their minds on actually playing competitive games.
“I’ve been part of those camps myself for the last five or six years as a player, so I know how tiring and stressful it can become towards the end of the week when you put everything into it.
“The key part of our planning is to see how the players behave when they’re under extreme pressure, physically and mentally.
“I think that’s one of the reasons why the game against Sporting Clube Farense was so beneficial, to get that in at the start of the week when the players were relatively fresh, and then to see how the players reacted towards the end of the week when they were really fatigued.
“It was hugely beneficial as a group of staff to see how they behaved under extreme pressure, in extreme heat, and there were a lot of benefits to analysing those situations and planning for the way we behave in those situations.
“Sometimes the players build up in their own minds that it’s very important to do well in pre-season games, but from my point of view it’s just about being constant in the way we want to play, and trying to implement those principles and being constant in the way we want to apply them.
“The results in pre-season are not the be all and end all, it’s just about working on the way we want to play and we won’t go away from that. It stood us in good stead towards the end of last season and we want to progress and enhance that, to become even more constant in the way that we do things, and I’m sure results will follow after it.”
Barry-Murphy also praised Kevin Gibbins, Dale’s Head of Football Science and Performance, on his role in pre-season since his return to the Club.
“It’s amazing to have Kevin back. Some of our lads know him from when he was with the Club previously, but the whole basis of bringing him back was to let him design how our pre-season looked, and to let him design how our training sessions looked.
“He then gives us his thoughts from a conditioning point of view, and we implement the football sessions, along with Lee Riley, Tony Ellis and Steve Collis, that we want to put into those frameworks.
“The lads have been blown away by Kevin’s impact, the intensity he wants them to work at, and as a result of that, a lot of the players have been feeling the heat and how hard it has been, but it can only benefit them in the long run.
“That’s the type of conditioning work that we feel is imperative to how we want to play and it was a hallmark of the week.”
The Dale boss has confirmed that Ollie Rathbone and summer signing Eoghan O’Connell missed out on training towards the end of the week, but insists they are just minor injuries.
“Going back to the way that we want to work as a Club, it demands a level of intensity and a level of focus that the players might have been slightly surprised by.
“Normally in pre-season you get chance to build up from slow phases going into quicker phases.
“In terms of Eoghan and Ollie, they just have a bit of stiffness, Eoghan in his calf and Ollie in his groin. One of the things that we want to be this summer is pre-active rather than reactive, so we didn’t want to take any chances with them.
“There’s no long-term damage to them and there shouldn’t be any long absences, it should just be a matter of days rather than weeks.
“If Eoghan or Ollie have to miss one or two games in pre-season to be available for the longer spell of games that we need them for, then we’re prepared to do that.”
Rhys Norrington-Davies and Rekeil Pyke, on loan from Sheffield United and Huddersfield Town respectively, also joined Dale this summer, along with O’Connell, and Barry-Murphy is pleased with how they have began pre-season.
“One of the benefits of getting those guys in early is that they get the chance to be with the group from a very early age.
“Rhys is an incredible character with a great personality, and he’s become very, very popular in the dressing room within a matter of days. He’s an outstanding player and someone that will add something different to what we’ve had before. He’s made a great impression.
“It was really important for Rekeil Pyke to be with us in pre-season because he had some problems with his hamstring last season. He’s on a real upward curve in terms of his physical development and we were very keen to get some work into him within our environment.
“He’s done loads of high-quality work at Huddersfield, but to do it in amongst our players, there will be things that we do slightly differently from a footballing point of view that we felt was imperative. He looks in great shape and we’re very happy to have him here.”
The full interview with Barry-Murphy is available to watch on iFollow freeview HERE.