Pools boss Craig Harrison brings us the latest from inside the camp after another productive week at Victoria Park.
Hello everyone – I just wanted to give you another quick update from The Vic after another week of hard work has led to a sixth new face arriving at the Club.
I am very pleased with the signing of Blair Adams. He has a lot of history and a lot of quality; he has been at a top club as a kid so has had a really good education. After that he has played in League One and League Two as well as in the SPL so he’s gained broad experience but it still at a very good age.
He’s the type of player who fits in to what we’re looking to do. We might need to bring one or two older heads in to the group for experience but we want have the best players we possibly can come here so it’s great that we’ve got so many between 23 and 28 who can enjoy the primes of their career with us.
I don’t think we have too many naturally left-footed players in the squad so Blair brings a balance to the team too. The way I want to play, particularly at home, is making the pitch as big as possible so you don’t really want to have a right-footer playing on the left because they then naturally look to come inside and that can make you predictable.
Blair gives us a fantastic energy up and down the left flank and in modern day football he fits what you’re looking for from a full-back. If you look at most divisions I bet 80% of full-backs are up there towards the top of the Assists Table – that’s just the way football has evolved with full-backs almost acting as the new wingers.
When I first came in I analysed everything and identified six or seven areas that I thought needed improving and we’re about 90% there now. I would still like to think we can bring one more player in to a key area and in an ideal world I would love to bring another three in. There is work going on in the background towards that and hopefully we will have more progress to report soon.
I am now really looking forward to Monday when the players return for pre-season training. I have really enjoyed the last four weeks of work behind the scenes because I like organising and leading things but there’s no better feeling that getting back out on the training pitch.
I dare say a few of the players may be dreading it – I’ll be honest, when I was a player, pre-season was the one time I didn’t really like. I certainly don’t miss it! But as a manager, it’s great to get back out there after the hard work of the summer and meet people face-to-face, start building relationships and bonding this bunch of lads in to a team that can lead us back to the EFL.
I think a lot of people have a lot of opinions about how pre-season should be but my view is that it’s the same as anything – you need balance. It’s about ticking all the boxes you need to tick and going through the preparations meticulously. If pre-season was just ball work it wouldn’t work. If it was just running it wouldn’t work. We have to have a combination of everything to get them prepared for modern day football.
One thing that will help us massively this year is the GPS technology we’ll be able to rely on during training to monitor the players’ progress. We’ve linked up with Teesside University and for the first time we’ll be able to see live reports on the players on a laptop as they’re actually taking part in the sessions, as well as being able to analyse performance closely afterwards. It’s a brilliant system to have available to us and a massive step forward for the Club.
The information we’ll get will allow us to have conversations with the fitness coaches and see how much mileage the players covered and at what speed. It will nail down individual performance so we’ll be able to tailor what we do for players – and see if there are any who need to stay back and do some extra work afterwards. The important thing at the heart of it all is injury prevention – injuries are part and parcel of football but, particularly during pre-season, it’s vital to try and keep a clean bill of health and anything science can do to help us protect the players is helpful.
After relegation and with a new manager coming in, I think it’s a given that the players will come back in great shape and determined to impress. One thing I can guarantee them all is that they will have to fight for their position – and that will start on Monday morning because how they perform will immediately give me an idea in my head. We don’t need anyone playing catch-up because it’s going to be very competitive from the start on Monday.
I want to end by thanking all the fans for their brilliant support. I was delighted to read that we had passed 1,000 Season Ticket sales. That’s a superb backing, all things considered, and is a good base for the rest of the sales period.
I think you can understand some fans being reluctant after being through a tough time but it’s up to everyone here to draw them all back in. When the football starts we have to try and excite the supporters and make sure they all leave Victoria Park with smiles on their faces.
The fans are going to be massive for us in the coming season. You only have to look at the last game of last season for evidence of how influential they can be. That support got an extra little bit out of the players and spurred the team on to a result against a team vying for the League Two title. The power of that support was there for everyone to see.
Being from his region, I know that the fans will ask for maximum effort and that’s what a team I put out on the pitch will give. Sometimes you don’t win – that’s just football but if the people in the north-east see you giving everything then they can forgive an awful lot. That hard work is the base for all of our work going forward.
Enjoy the weekend and I’ll bring you another update soon here on the Official Website.