Across pre-season, Blues Manager Calum McIntyre will update supporters as we build to the new season. Today he looks back at week one and tells us what’s to come…
Week one of pre-season has come, gone and absolutely flown by. We had four sessions with the players, including their pre-season profiling sessions.
On Thursday, our players visited King Performance Ideology to look at their gym based profiling before completing their pitch based profiling on Saturday morning. This is a really important exercise for us as we look to see what we can do to boost the players’ physical performance. We are really fortunate to be working with KPI and I have been so impressed with what they have offered the players in terms of data and feedback. Alongside these profiling sessions, we have obviously looked to get the players back on the balls as well as introducing them to our conditioning programme as we undertook the first of our group runs as the week went on. As well as this, we have seven trialists in with us who are looking to earn a contract with us for this season. I’m really pleased with the environment the players are creating in our new model. We have been able to invest time and resource into securing as professional experience as possible, including using a tremendous facility but ensuring we are offering players the right support in terms of physical support and nutrition with Jimmy Soul and his team of helpers even cooking for the boys after training!
Ultimately, this week will be about turning our attentions towards getting back out there on the pitch. Our first contact with the players this week will be with our first pre-season friendly away at Whitchurch Alport and we are really looking forward to getting back out on the pitch. For us, the sole focus will be on our physical output on the night. I don’t expect to see any patterns of play and I wouldn’t expect us to have any real structure out of possession – it will be a different type of physical exercise with our work coming in a different setting. I intend to utilise 22 players on Tuesday evening, both a mix of our signed players and trialists with potentially a few of our Academy boys being involved. In each half, there will be a distance target that must be hit collectively as a group before each group takes part in some High Speed Runs at the end of each half. These are all a part of ensuring we maximise it in terms of a physical session for our players.
When we return to training on Thursday, we will be looking to start introducing some of our out of possession principles ahead of Saturday’s game against Rochdale. Let’s be really clear, we won’t be the finished article for some period of time now, but I would hope that we can put some things into practice on Saturday in terms of how we set up defensively and how we look to regain possession. This is a really good opportunity to do this against a side that will really test us defensively. Ultimately they are a League Two outfit that are at least seven days ahead of us in terms of their preparation for the new season that really plays it’s part this time of year. In terms of success, we will be looking to ensure that some of the structural bits that we introduce this week are visible on the pitch otherwise what is the purpose of working through stuff on the training ground? I won’t expect us to be anything other than a work in progress but it is important we see the foundations of what we want to be as a defensive unit which is a clear area we want to improve.
There are obviously key bits of business still to do in three areas of the pitch. I cannot stress enough the importance of not moving too early in certain positions as players become available that may be currently pitching themselves slightly further up the pyramid. Equally, we want to make sure that we have done the right level of due diligence on each of our trialists and give them the opportunity to impress. I must say two trialists have particularly caught my eye and I really look forward to seeing them in game situations this week.
A final word for the positivity that our supporters have created over recent weeks. There is a buzz around the football club and I can see our players soaking it all in and they are desperate to play their part in creating yet more positivity once the competitive season gets underway. I can see the excitement that our supporters have created with their efforts in buying Season Tickets and contributing to Boost the Budget and that play its part.
This football club thrives on the pitch when there is a clear togetherness and I can see that forming each week. Everyone wants Chester to win and everyone has their part to play. I know what my part is and I look forward to continuing to work hard as the pre-season games begin.