individuals. On any given day there are 25 to 30 first team players that we’re responsible for and they all have individual needs and requirements.
How far ahead do you plan with your department – might you see a free week a month or so ahead and earmark it for a period of rest, or a period of a certain form of training?
Yes, definitely. We tend to macromanagement the loads in terms of looking at the fixtures each month and then micromanage the loads within that. It’s difficult to do it from a seasonal perspective but you will have different periods throughout the season where we’ll reduce the training load when we’re going into a heavy fixture period, and when there are less games we can sometimes work the players harder. The week before we started the busy Christmas period against Swansea we had a free week and we felt that it would be good to work the players quite hard in order to carry them through that period and some of the players definitely benefitted from that. There is, of course, the other part of micromanaging whereby the manager picks the team and we have to react beyond that. So if some players are not selected for games we have to work them harder in training and maybe bring them in on days off for example. Bar the FA Cup replay and Southampton game we pretty much had a schedule of no midweek games last month so there were good opportunities to really get some work into the players and ‘fill the tanks up’ if you like which will hopefully help us push past the line at the end of the season with a trophy or two.
You touched on the recovery part of the game earlier, does it become just as important as the preparation side of things, particularly as we enter the latter stages of the season?
Absolutely, the recovery process is massively important. The expectations we have here and what this club demands is that we should be challenging for the Premier League and the Champions League in the latter part of the season and in order to do that we’ve got to prepare the players for that period where they’re potentially playing three games a week. So recovery becomes very important at the back end of the campaign. At any moment in time you’re looking at every player to be available and to be ready to come into the team and do a job. There is therefore a real emphasis on ensuring the players are recovered enough and in turn ready enough.