THE summer break has been a busy one for me as I had been doing my coaching badges for nearly half of it but it is already over for me as I have headed back to pre-season training with Hartlepool.
We were due back yesterday [Monday] but I write this on Sunday night I have still to meet the new manager of the club, Craig Harrison, as I have been back in Ireland although I have had a few conversations with him on the phone.
I’m also looking forward to meeting the new players who have signed for us. From the signings the manager has made, they look like smart buys. A couple of them are coming from higher divisions and a couple have had experience of getting out of the Conference which is going to be very important for us.
One of the new players, Scott Loach, has also been named in three England squads and was on the bench for those three games. Unfortunately, he didn’t get capped but it just shows the calibre of player the manager has been able to attract to the football club which is encouraging
There has been quite a big turnover this summer both on and off the field. The new manager is bringing his own staff in with him which is normal for a new manager. There has been a change of physio too after 25 years so that will be a big change for a lot of the lads who have been with the club for a few years.
We also have a new chairperson so it has been a very interesting summer so far. I’m sure there are going to be even more changes over the course of pre-season training as the club tries to bounce back into the Football League at the first attempt.
Pre-season is a time not many players look forward to. The main reason for this is not actually the hard work that is involved, but the fact that the next competitive game is at least six weeks away and there won’t be a pre-season friendly for a few weeks either. The days of turning up to pre-season training carrying a little bit of weight are gone and everyone will be turning up in good condition and ready to get going.
In the past, managers would run players and the players wouldn’t even see a football for the first few weeks. But that has all changed now. Since the introduction of sports scientists, heart rate monitors and advances in training methods, managers and staff can see how hard players are working and if they need to do more in training they can raise the intensity of the session.
Don’t get me wrong, there will still be a lot of running involved in training but most of it will be disguised, even though everyone knows it’s being disguised.
I know I said players won’t be looking forward to pre-season training. But everyone will be excited about getting back into the dressing room and seeing old team-mates, and new ones too.
Players who are still at the club from last year have points to prove and they want to right the wrongs of last year. At the same time, the new players are coming in to try and get the club promoted because I am sure they all want to be playing in a higher division. Because there is a new manager coming in, every player is on a level playing field and they all want to impress so that when the manager names his team on the first day of the season we are in the starting XI.
It is going to be a very long and tough season and while the manager is new to the league, I am 100% sure he has done his homework on players and on the teams that we will be up against so his masterplan is in place to get the club back into the Football League.