I had really been looking forward to the pre-season tour to Holland ever since we found out that we had been chosen to go.
However I couldn’t believe that I dislocated my elbow a week before departure, which obviously meant that I’d not be able to play in any games on the tour.
I’ve had a bit of an injury nightmare recently as I have only just recovered from an ACL rupture in my knee but least it will provide me with plenty of time to write this blog about our time in Utrecht, Holland.
All the boys were at Birmingham airport bright and early on Monday morning looking forward to flight. However they might have wished they were not on the plane after discovering there was a baby in the next row which was screaming non-stop for the whole journey, luckily the journey was only a 50 minute flight.
After touched down in Amsterdam we got our bags and set off to the bus that would take us to the hotel. Before we got on the coach we were allowed to go and buy food. This was probably a mistake because it took us about 30 minutes to decide what to get as all the labels were in Dutch.
The journey to the hotel was enjoyable because everyone was starting to get excited about training with FC Utrecht the next day and asking all the Managers and Advisors about the trip.
Once we arrived at the hotel we had a quick look round and checked out our rooms. Me and my roommate are extremely happy with ours because we have got a lot of space, a television, a DVD player and the internet.
Around the hotel there are a lot of things that can keep us occupied during our stay such as a gym, sauna, steam room, swimming pool and Jacuzzi’s. There is also a bowling alley which I think could become the subject of a team bonding tournament.
After settling in, the lads went outside the hotel and had a light training session on the facilities provided at the hotel which are top class pitches of the 3G and 4G variety, similar to synthetic grass.
The lads I spoke to said they thoroughly enjoyed the session as the facilities were brilliant and the session itself was good and inventive allowing them to feel sharp ahead of the upcoming games.
Once finishing the session, the lads used the pool and other facilities to relax and have a laugh. Everyone came into pool and we had a great game of head tennis in the pool followed by a water polo match, again allowing us to bond as a team.
The hotel then provided us with our evening meals which was really nice with a lot of choice. The food which was on offer was healthy and good for us as footballers.
During meal there was a lot of banter flying about the pool games and other things happening round the hotel. Then at night we all chilled and rested ready for training tomorrow.
We were all up early morning ready for our first training session with the FC Utrecht coaches. The travel from the hotel and Utrecht training ground was not far and when we got there we noticed straight away how good the facilities were as well as the amount of pitches they had at the training ground.
We then met a coach from FC Utrecht who greeted us and took the morning training session. From watching the session and speaking to the lads, the Dutch philosophy on football is different in some ways to the English game.
The Dutch coach believed in attack, being inventive with tricks and having an end product. He also touched upon how he liked things to be sharp and quick with the ball and being aware when you lose it. The session the coach put on was very skilful and enjoyable which also gave a lot of confidence during the session.
In the afternoon session we trained with our coaches from Walsall, this was more of a tactical session concentrating on positioning on pitch as team and as individuals. However things towards the end of the session were similar to the morning session because when they brought the ball in to play it was all about keeping the ball and doing the right things at the right time at a quick tempo just like the Dutch coach had asked of us.
After the training session we all arrived back at the hotel and had a relaxing session in the pool and sauna before having a bite to eat. Once all this was done we went into the meeting room to having a discussion with our manager about strategies and key points towards tomorrow night’s game.