Today we were playing VFL Osnabrück U19’s, a German outfit who had beaten Cheltenham and Tranmere heavily in the last couple of years so we knew we were in for a test. We had also been invited to go and watch their first team who are in the third tier of German football, equivalent to Sheffield United. This all meant a day trip to Germany and a chance to see another country.
After breakfast we had a meeting for the lads who were researching Osnabrück to present what they had found, this was helpful as we had an idea of the formation they would play and their strengths and weaknesses. We relaxed for the rest of the morning before lunch but 12:30 came in no time and we set off for Germany – it only took an hour and a half which was quicker than I expected.
The game was a tough one, they were a good outfit and with us trying a new system 1-1 was a fair result – and we finished the game the stronger team. It was good to get 60 minutes building towards QPR in a weeks’ time, our first league game.
All of us got showered and changed and got a minibus, organised by the club, to the stadium. When we arrived at the stadium I had never heard or felt an atmosphere like it! It was a sea of purple with huge chanting, the away fans were unreal as well – never quiet! The game was a good one, it was very direct. I expected more playing out from the back but there were some good players. It was good to watch the standard and compare it to our first team, it was of a similar class. After a long day we travelled back to the hotel and got ourselves rested up for the last few days of the tour.
Breakfast the following morning was welcomed by the lads (everyone seemed hungrier than usual) after the long day in Germany. We followed breakfast with a swim in the hotel pool as a recovery session. It was good for the legs and good fun as well with the team. After 30 minutes in the pool, we had a stretch on the indoor tennis courts with our sport scientist Mark Pease, then had a big game of head tennis!
It was very competitive with the loser of ‘best of three’ acting as waiters at lunch! There was a lot at stake and the banter was flying with the lads especially the ones at the net. After three long games our team lost, it wasn’t the best moment of the tour. It was a good laugh and brought the lads together. Lunch came round and we were getting the drinks in, a lot of laughs and commands from the lads who won making the most of their success.
At 15:00 we went on a bike ride in the local area. Holland is a nice country to look at and is very scenic. We had a walk in a local village and the coaches treated us to an ice cream! When we got back to the hotel we had tea and looked at some video analysis of the Feyenoord game. We also did a mini review of the tour of what went well, improvements etc. Overall it was a quiet day with the LFE tournament pending the next day.