We get another update from Pools boss Craig Harrison as he gives us the inside take on the squad's first five days of pre-season training.
Hello everyone and welcome to my latest Blog here on the Official Website. I just wanted to give you all another update at the end of a very positive first week of pre-season training.
Looking back over the last five days, I don’t think it could have gone much better in terms of that we have planned and what has come to fruition. It’s great that the planning that Batesy, Craig Hubbard and myself have done has been well-received because this week was important in terms of putting a base down for what lies ahead.
It’s been a high volume, low intensity kind of week and that’s because the last thing you want in pre-season is to pick up injuries. That was the thinking in coming back a little earlier – so that we could work on giving them a base to build up the work and lower the risk of injury.
When the season starts there will be so many games so there won’t be much scope for us to increase the players’ fitness or robustness. A lot of time will be spent in recovery, working tactically or travelling so the next five weeks is going to be key in laying down the foundations we need.
I’ve mentioned it before but one thing that is definitely helping is the GPS technology we’ve got from Teesside University and the work that Shaun is doing in partnership with Craig and the medical and coaching staff.
There was a great example on Friday morning when we did a football session which was also fitness orientated but three of the players had said they were feeling some stiffness. You can correlate that with the figures we have for the rest of the week and it turned out that the three players in question were the ones who had pushed themselves the most, covered the most distance and completed the most intensive runs. That information then allows us to lower the loads and control things more specifically which is brilliant. The three players can now still work today but a little lighter, then rest over the weekend before going 100% again on Monday morning.
As well as the fitness work, we’re looking to build a spirit among the players. I think there is always likely to be a little bit of shyness with new players coming in to a Club, particularly when the majority of our summer signings have been relatively young. However, we’ve had some fun at training this week which will help – including introducing rewards for the winning teams in each drill and forfeits for the losers! We’re here to win things – there’s no room for losers! It’s about building that spirit but also an ultra-competitive and winning environment at the training ground which the lads will automatically take on to the pitch.
Another side to that is making sure that there is a real connection between the players and the fans. I know most weeks you only get to see them for 90 minutes but we want to try and bring everyone together and little behind the scenes features like the Poolie Patter that went on the website on Thursday all help that. It was a good laugh for the lads to take part in and it led to a bit of banter during the warm-up on Friday morning which is great. And if we can try and show supporters that little bit more personality then that will help build the connection between the team and the fans which is going to be crucial for us in the season. I’ve suggested we give Munnsy the chance to test some of our local players with his Essex words and maybe Jake with his Welsh and Luke with some Scouse so look out for that in the coming weeks!
I’m all up for fun like that around the training but, of course, when the work starts I expect everyone to be 100% focused. People who don’t know me well will probably see a different person on the training pitch – I can be quite aggressive in demanding the intensity that is required. Once that is done, I am quite an approachable, sociable person who likes to talk and get to know people. There has to be that line and it can’t be crossed. You do it the way I want you to and that is it.
The fixtures are out on Wednesday finally – I have to say it’s been a bit of a pain in the backside having to wait for them to land. You can get on with making a framework of plans which can then be tweaked when the fixtures come out but it doesn’t five you a huge amount of time to do the planning. I know in my mind already what training will look when it’s Saturday to Saturday and what will change when it’s Saturday/Tuesday/Saturday games but it will be great to add the finer details once the fixture schedule is confirmed.
Momentum is going to be key but it’s important to remember that there are 46 league games. Ideally, I would want to start quickly, have a solid middle and then end strongly but having everyone fit for the start of the season is the first aim, and to make sure we have the foundations in place to get stronger as the season goes on.
We’re still looking to strengthen the squad and, although I won’t make concrete promises, I am hopeful we can add another player in a key area within the next seven days. Then I think we would only really need another two to complete the squad and be competitive in most areas. I am also continuing to work on a new Assistant Manager but, as I’ve said before, the person I want is at another club
Right, I think that’s all for now but I will try to keep you updated as often as possible here on the Official Website in the coming weeks. Have a great weekend.