LFE Blog

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Jon Haynes - Walsall FC

Off To A Flying Start

29/07/11 |

Day 3

Yet again another early start, meeting for breakfast at the regular time of 8.00am.

Once everyone had eaten we set off again to take part in a light training session with Utrecht coach Sjors before our first game of the trip against SVV.

The training session was a very light one however the things he did in the session emphasised the way the he wants to play football, which is very attractive and attacking, the lads were practicing their technique in ball striking and accuracy.

The final part of the session was all about crossing and finishing which was great to watch as he liked this being done at high tempo and loved to see the tricks and range of crossing that the team had in it’s locker.

Once the training session had finished we all congregated back at the hotel and had dinner before resting in anticipation for the night game.

After a short nap the whole squad was raring to go with a win in the crosshairs.

When we got to SVV’s ground it was amazing to see the facilities they had and how many 3G pitches they have and use.

While the lads were warming up, there were a lot of other teams playing or younger SVV teams training by us. It was also good to see that kids at such a young age were being taught the same things that the Utrecht coach was trying to show us.

SVV Youth (B) v Walsall Youth

We got off to a very bright start finding ourselves three early goals through masses of enthusiasm and energy, we definitely took the game to the opposition.

However even though we were out infront, SVV didn’t change the way they played. Their structure and strategy throughout the game was to pass the ball a lot and attack as a team with a lot of fluency.

The second half was very similar but we had to dig deep to stay on top of the game as SVV came out with an increase in tempo and pushed us back a few times.

We were in a comfortable position and our energy and fitness levels proved to be the deciding factor as we added a further five goals to the scoreline, taking them really well alongside the flow of the game.

We all met in the cafe post-match to share a non-alcoholic beverage with everyone including the opposition. It was crazy to see one of their players smoking outside the building just after the game had finished.

When entering the cafe we discovered a table tennis table so it was mutual decision to find out who had a ability in more than one sport and of course this was a great laugh.

We all thought we were decent until the moment one coach came over and taught us a few tricks. After that we all thought it would be best to retire and rest for tomorrow.

Day 4

Thankfully, our manager gave us a well deserved break meaning we enjoyed breakfast at 9.00am.

However, to some players this wasn’t enough of a reward and a lot of lads came down in their nightwear along with heavy bags under their eyes.

After breakfast we all grouped together for a stroll to stretch off the legs and drain all the ‘bad stuff’ from our bodies. Today, we didn’t train with Utrecht, instead we had a tour around their stadium.

From the outside the ground was huge and looked as if it would hold a colossal crowd so we were surprised when the guide told us that it holds only holds 30,000 people.

When we finished the tour, a presentation was delivered by Sjors about Utrecht’s football philosophy sparking a lot of debate.

Firstly, we were split into groups and then had to create our best world XI and explain why we had chosen the team.

My group’s world XI was a 4-3-3 formation comprising of:

GK: Joe Hart
DEF: Phillip Lahm, Carlos Puyol, Nemanja Vidic, Ashley Cole
MID: Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Iniesta
FOR: Bale, Messi, Hernandez

Presentation

No one could believe our group did not include Ronaldo into our team however I thought we could only have one superstar in a team and we believed Messi is the better player.

He then gave us a presentation about the football philosophy of Utrecht and how he wants Utrecht want to play attacking and fluent football.

He kept reiterating how he would much rather win a game 6-5 than 1-0 because it entertained the fans and showed their attacking was good.

After the tour we were then able to relax and chill until dinner. However a few lads took the rest too far and instead got put through a gym session as a punishment before they could enjoy their relaxation time.

A lot of the players took the opportunity to go in the pool and play games with a small ball purchased on location.

In the evening we then had dinner and all relaxed by competing in a football quiz.

It was amazing to see how many lads had a lack of general football knowledge but some of the boys did really well.

Each team had to give themselves a name and the questions covered a huge variety of different football subjects.

When the answers were marked it turned out that there were two teams in joint second place with 40 points – they were Dan, Cal & Kie and my team ‘Fat Turkey Squint’, Cressie and Tanky were the others in my team.

We couldn’t believe it when the staff team won with 41 points. There needed to be a stewards inquiry into that one because they had five players in their team!

We were all gutted and to make it worse they made Dobbo take a photo of them celebrating! It was good laugh though.

We are back into training tomorrow with a double session before our trip to Amsterdam on Saturday.