McKenna: A positive start for Fernandes
Speaking this week, Kieran McKenna explained why Bruno Fernandes deserves credit for his integration...
Kieran, just to begin with, this is the first winter break in Premier League history, so how pleased are you that it has been introduced? “Yeah, I think it should be a good benefit, not to just to ourselves but to all of the teams. But especially for us with the schedule we've had, which has been pretty relentless in terms of a game every three or four days, with some injuries as well, so it has been a really busy schedule. It's a chance to have a break, for the players to have some family time, and then to come somewhere like this to train should be really beneficial. And hopefully we will get some good work in and see the benefits in the next few months.” It was interesting to see in the first week of the break that some of the lads spent time with their families, as you say, while others continued to train with members of the staff. What was the thinking there and how carefully was that planned out? “Yeah, very carefully, very much so. It is just about doing what is right for each individual. They are all at different stages. Some of them have had a clear run through the season with no injuries, have been available for the games and have played or trained a lot, while other boys have missed time over the course of the feel and don't feel like they need, or even want, a break at this period in terms of training. So we looked at it across the board, everybody had a different week and we hope we managed to give everyone the best opportunity to get the right balance of relaxation, family time and maintaining fitness levels where appropriate.” You've got six days out here in Spain, so how are you going to use this time and what are you looking to achieve? “There are lots of different outcomes. Obviously, we have got Bruno with us as well, which is a big positive, so he did well to put his hand up and make himself available for the Wolves game, going straight into the team. It is a great chance for lads like him to come into the group and get to know the players better. Again, for the younger players, some of them have been around it for quite a bit now, but I still think it is a big opportunity to come away and train on a consistent week with the team to make an impression. And for the team, it has been such a run of fixtures every three days - I think this is the first time we haven't had a midweek game since August, so with the amount of recovery that they need we haven't had too many opportunities to train. This is the first time since the summer that we've had an opportunity to train as a whole squad for a run of days. It is the best time to work on things as a team, to tactically improve in and out of possession, on set-pieces, to get some good work in and individually there are lots of things we can get from it. As a team, it's a really good chance to work on some things as a collective.” That tactical work is really fascinating for us to see and, speaking of Bruno, he obviously needs to learn how to play with the lads here, but is it also a case of the lads learning how to get the best out of him? “Yes. As I say, it is a credit to him for coming in, putting his hand up straightaway and saying he wanted to go into the team for Wolves. It was a really positive start for him. It is the same process as all of the players. It is trying to find the right balance, playing in positions where they can complement each other, building relationships all over the pitch, so that players understand each other's games, where to pass and what runs different players make. That is part of the process with him this week. Thankfully, he is an experienced player, he has played in a lot of different positions and roles, so he is very versatile in that way, so it is obviously the manager's job and us as staff to find ways to make him settle into the team quickly. That is the same for all of the players really. It is a good chance to get some work in, work as a team, on patterns and some movements off the ball as well that will really bring out the best strengths in the individuals.”