Monday was a double session at the new hotels facilities, which are surprisingly good. They have several pitches and the standard of grass is great. We focused our sessions on technical work, with a lot of passing drills and a short possession game focusing on breaking lines and playing side on.
After lunch we had a quick recovery session in the pool before some free time to relax and gain energy for the afternoon session. The hotel has a great game room so there’s a lot to do. It has two table tennis tables, a pool table, two dart boards, an archery station, an air hockey table, a bouncy castle, two full sized tennis courts, a small artificial putting green, a two-a-side football pitch, head tennis court and a pinball machine.
The afternoon session was all small sided games, we played about 7 games and it was a fun session which we all enjoyed, although a lot of legs were aching by the end of the day.
Tuesday was all about game preparation. Late breakfast and a morning session where our feet were all a bit heavy from yesterday, but we got the work done and managed to keep a reasonable standard. Not the longest session so we still managed to take a quick dip in the pool before heading to lunch.
After, a good lunch we all went back to our rooms for a two hour nap. We all woke up still a bit tired but more refreshed and we met for a team meeting instead of a second session. In the meeting we discussed different things we wanted to improve from the Vitesse game into the game against NEC. Several things came up and we all agreed on what we wanted to improve which I think is good.
After dinner, we all went bowling in the hotel bowling arena which was actually really good fun. We split it into four groups, two of them being the 1st years, one group of staff and the final group second years. I don’t think we really played seriously because a lot of the rounds ended up with zeroes. However, I must say I ended up with the worst score between all of the groups due to my technique. I haven’t bowled since the birthday parties in year 6 so I must admit I wasn’t very consistent, but I had some good shots every now and then. The second years ended up smashing the 1st years so at least I got a bit of a win.
After the bowling we went back to our rooms for an early night preparing for Wednesdays game.
Very early start to the morning getting up at quarter to seven for a bus which left at 7:45am, with a kick off at Nijmegen NEC’s training ground at 10:30am.
When we arrived it turns out their 1st teams home ground is only a short walk from their training pitches so they have everything gathered together. They had great facilities with a grass pitch next to an artificial pitch, but further along they had a couple of more pitches. They said the facilities weren’t as good as Vitesses’ or FC Twente’s, but they were still good.
Despite the early start and a lot of tired faces among the boys, we completed a good game ending in a 1-1 draw which we could’ve easily won with a bit more accuracy in front of goal. I felt it was a good team performance all round and we all worked hard for each other which really helped the team spirit to go out there and play football the way we want to play. Having said that, it wasn’t perfect, there’s a still load of room to improve on different areas, but looking at the game as a whole, having played three games in seven days with a 14 man squad and performing at the level I think we can be pleased with ourselves. Also, looking back at our game against FC Twente, I think we all feel we’ve improved a lot during this tour and we’ve gained confidence as a team and as individuals.
During this tour, we’ve played three Dutch teams and they all have the same style of play. They are very technical players who like to pass it, but can also do things on their own. They try their best to play out from the back and they’re very calm on the ball. Physically, they don’t always have to be big, there has been a lot of variation seeing NEC as the stronger side physically, but all the teams we’ve played have had very agile players all over the pitch which I think is very important if playing the way they want to play.
Back at the hotel we had a quick recovery session in the pool after lunch and then had some free time before the final meal of the day. Before dinner we had a short team meeting going through some of the points I’ve already mentioned and then we’ve just relaxed before going to bed all of us being very tired, but looking forward to the last couple of days on tour.