Brian Honour gives us his views ahead of the new campaign, recalls a horror pre-season from his playing days and updates us on his rehab from knee surgery.
Hello everyone and welcome to my latest Blog here on the Official Website.
This time of year is always exciting in the build-up to the new season; everyone goes in to it with a clean sheet, it’s new and everyone is fancying their chances – and I think we have every reason to be optimistic.
I’ve said in the past that pre-season friendlies aren’t really my cup of tea – I didn’t really ever enjoy them as a player because one game you’ll hardly get a kick if you’re playing a better side and then the next game you’ll dominate completely against a lower league side. It means that you don’t really get a fair reflection of where you’re going and what’s ahead, in my opinion.
I have to say that from what I have seen everyone who has been brought by in Craig Hignett over the summer looks very comfortable on the ball. The type of player we’ve signed are technically very good footballers so, looking at that, you can see the way we’re going to try and play in the new season.
It was great to see some of our strikers get in among the goals at Guisborough the other night. I know it’s only a friendly but, for forwards, it doesn’t matter what kind of game it is if you’re putting the ball in the net. Half the battle with a striker is between the ears in my opinion so getting some goals on Tuesday will have done those players no harm at all. If you’re scoring, making those runs, getting those chances, then it will do the world of good.
Away from the front men, I definitely like the look of Toto Nsiala at the back. He’s a big unit, is athletic and quick, and looks well suited to the level of football we’ll be playing at. I know Higgy has said before he would rather win 5-4 than 1-0 but we’ve got the best goalkeeper in the league and a steady back four so I don’t think we’ll concede that many. I know we shipped three against Sunderland but Jermain Defoe was on another level that night – it’s the first time I’ve actually seen him play live and I don’t think I appreciated just how good he is, he was electric in the first half at The Vic. Thankfully, we won’t be coming up against his level every week during the season!
Other than that we kept a clean sheet up in Scotland against Livingston and another the other night at Guisborough so that helps defenders build confidence too and that can run through the team. You can’t predict how it’s going to pan out but I think there is plenty to be hopeful about.
As I say though, pre-season is just about fitness and doesn’t give that clear indication – I mean, I played in a pre-season when we beat Manchester United 6-0 at The Vic, and then didn’t win any of our first five league games! The league doesn’t really settle down until about a dozen games in – then you can see which teams are going to be up there and which are going to be a struggling.
One thing I do know is that pre-season is very different now to what it was when I was playing! Back then, you had more or less two weeks of ‘road work’ as we called it. It was basically the dock run in a morning – which you had to do as quickly as possible – and then a circuit, followed by the dock run again in the afternoon! We never saw a ball for those first two weeks usually!
I think the worst pre-season I had was in about 1992 when it was decided that the squad would go to Romania. It was basically a PR exercise because we spent a lot of time visiting orphanages and deprived areas – it was an eye-opener and sad to see, I have to say. We didn’t do a lot of training but played a friendly against Brasov and go hammered. The flight was long and the whole trip, as good as it was for PR and we had a lot of nice things said about us, wasn’t great for planning towards the new season.
Needless to say, things are different at Pools now. I was up at the training ground last week to do a little bit of rehab work with Buster and Stuart Parnaby, and that gave me the chance to watch a little bit of the training – it was pass, pass, pass, pass. It was all very sharp training with the ball and that’s what it’s been like since Day One, I understand. These players went to Tenerife for a training camp – our resort back in my day was Crimdon or Seaton!
After having my knee replacement operation, I am currently in the middle of my own little pre-season. It’s six weeks on Friday since the surgery and I’m getting regular in the gym now which I’ve not been able to do for years. The leg is as good now as it’s been in twenty years; I’ve got more movement in it and the signs are that the operation has been a massive success but I have to put the rehab work in to feel the full benefit.
One thing my recovery has allowed me to do is return to the coaching field and my Soccer Schools at Peterlee and Seaton Domes next week. With being self-employed I was able to take the six weeks off to give myself the best possible chance to recover properly and live the rest of my life pain-free.
From Tuesday 2nd August I’ll be back up and running at Peterlee, while the Seaton Domes session will kick-off again on Friday 5th August. For more info visit the Brian Honour Soccer Schools page on Facebook.
Right, that’s all for another Blog – I’ll see you all at The Vic.
Never Say Die.