Monday followed the same ritual as usual, College followed by training. The session this week was 1 v 1 and 2 v 2 stuff with attackers and defenders reversing their role as soon as the play had broken down or a shot had been taken by the attacking player.
While I’m sure the untrained eye would look at this and maybe liken it to something like Wembley knock-out in the school-yard I can tell you with a great degree of conviction that these sessions are really competitive and physically demanding.
In effect you’re working non-stop to either stop or beat you’re opposing player in the 1 vs 1 in the 2 vs 2 it’s again very much the same except you’re having to look at your covering position when defending – that is putting yourself in a position to get across and deal with an attacker if he beats your team-mate while retaining a position that allows you to get over and affect play quickly if the attacker passes to his team-mate – the man you are assigned to stop!
Attacking wise you’re looking at making angles, staying onside and making dummy runs so all in all it’s pretty tiring as nobody wants to be embarrassed or bested by anyone else, the tempo was great and everyone worked hard. Sessions like this are great because you’re improving skills in tight areas but at the same time topping up your fitness because it is so demanding – it’s no surprise that Jose Mourinho added a lot of these sessions into Chelsea’s training programme when he was Manager there.
We took the small sided stuff into a game situation and the quality and tempo seemed to desert us. On reflection this was probably in part due to fatigue thankfully our Coaches recognised this and called it a day!
When we got back in the team sheet had been put up for the reserve game against Rotherham United and I was buzzing to see my name on the sheet. It’s a strange but exciting feeling to see your name in the squad list and you do wonder if it’s been put up by mistake or something given you’re not expecting it at all. I was absolutely speechless when I got told I was starting the game at right back. I can’t really describe what I was feeling. I just thought things couldn’t get better.
Reserves Match: Rotherham United v Newcastle United
We had our match preparation and left the training ground around 1pm. On the way down there I was quite calm, I just kept thinking about my role and my duties, but it hit me when we arrived at Don Valley. I was really buzzing after seeing the stadium.
The game itself ended 4-2 to Rotherham. But we started off well when Aaron (Spear), another debutant got on the end of Samuel Adjei’s cross. The first 10 minutes were the hardest, and you could feel straight away that it was a big step from Academy football. The pace and tempo of the game is quicker but everything is done with just that touch more quality that means if you are out of position or you do make an error it’s more likely to be punished.
The other factor that I alluded to is that because the tempo is different you find yourself having to catch your breath because you’re blowing! This settles down though and after 15 minutes or so I’d adjusted and really started enjoying the game. I was pushing forward when I could and kept everything simple.
When went in at half time at 1-1 we mistakenly thought that we’d have legs on them come the second half as we were a younger and fitter team. What a mistake that was, they had players in their team who had considerable experience of playing in the League and as the game wore on their experience really showed up our lack of it. Their movement was almost impossible to deal with at times and they went 2-1 up 10 minutes after the break, then 3-1, and eventually 4-1.
Despite that the lads still battled on and we pulled one back 10 minutes from time when we managed to make the most out of a goalkeeping error.
I was gutted to have lost my first game with the Reserves however was really pleased with my performance.
On Wednesday we were in College and started our coaching sessions which aim to make us all qualified Level two Football coaches.
The lads involved on Tuesday’s game had a session in the gym doing recovery leaving us with a couple of days to prepare ahead of the weekends game against Huddersfield.