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Manager Phil McGuire is pleased with how Pre-Season has gone so far and particularly with how competitive Saturdays game with Thorn Athletic was. We sat down for a chat about that and also the presentation by Greg Soutar to the players on the rule changes and Tuesday nights visit to Cal Owens at Caledonia Health & Fitness Scotland.

Saturday seemed to be a really good work out against an excellent side, I would guess you are pleased.

Yes I was pleased at how competitive the game was, it wasn’t a surprise as I know Thorn well and they are an excellent team and well established, I knew that they would hold their own in the top half of our Premier League. During pre-season we are keen to get the minutes and start building match fitness, there are still areas to work on and that will come as we play more games and experiment with players and shape of the team. I felt we controlled large parts of the game but at the same time we were asked questions as a team from some of Thorns attacks which kept the game at a fairly high tempo. Going behind to a penalty also showed the character we have and we equalised through a fine strike from Pat Martin at the edge of the box. We continued to press and the game was played out in good spirits and we managed to get the winner late on with some patient play and a fine through pass from Cruicky that Jake took superbly after rounding the keeper.

What are your thoughts on Pre-Season in general ?

Pre-season has gone very well, I believe the basis of the fitness levels combined with the shorter break has contributed to the players returning well. We had set a lot of this work in place by approaching our tempo and training schedules differently last season and this gave us the platform for the programme. What a lot people on the outside think is that it is just running players into brick walls and getting the balls out well into the programme, when they are too knackered to do anything with it. The way we work is in progressive levels and if we have that good core fitness we can work on more game specifics straight off, by progressing the fitness levels week on week with varying exercises mainly replicated around game situations and position specifics.

The players attitudes and application have been excellent they have worked extremely hard so far and embraced changes in which they maybe haven’t been accustomed to but are understanding the benefits of the exercises and taking some ownership for themselves. The coaching staff put a lot of work into the planning the programme because it is so important we get things right. This will set the players up for a long season, it’s another reason why we structure specific exercises completely around the player, to first of all up fitness levels and game management but most importantly for them to be injury free and start the new season as best they can be.

The club invited Greg Soutar to Thursdays session to explain the rule changes, how did that go ?

We invited the officials in to explain the new rule changes and what can be deemed an offence and not. I would like to thanks both Greig & Stevie Traynor for taking that time out to do this. I think the new rules should hopefully make things a bit quicker in game play with some very common sense approaches coming into the game. It is good for the players to obviously understand these changes and how it can not only affect the game but there role on the pitch. I think like every change over the years it will take sometime to adjust and again it will purely be the interpretation by the official which at times can be questionable, so for me it has to be consistent across the board.

This week sees the focus shift a bit in the programme

Yes we visited Caledonia Health & Fitness Scotland, we have sponsorship agreement with them and they kindly sponsored our new Rain Jackets. Cal at Caledonia has been brilliant, we are keen on working together to benefit both the gym and the club. We look at our sponsorship deals to be a continued collaboration not only to strengthen the relationship but also moving it where possible in to the community.

Our schedule included utilising the swimming pool and Gymnasium because for me, a change of scenery is good for the players but the bigger benefits are that the players are again working differently and utilising different muscle groups. We are asking the players to look more at the strength and conditioning aspect and how we can maximise our work, so while in the pool last night I took the squad and we worked on non impact workloads and tested the bodies with various drills,  hard work, intense but fun for the players. Cal also took 3/4 players to to the gym to work on other specifics as they catch up with the levels of others as they had returned from breaks.

After seeing the fantastic facilities at Caledonia Health & Fitness it is for me no doubt the best fitness centre across Tayside & Angus, not only because they haver high tech equipment but also the experienced staff and their openness to work with us as a Football Club is fantastic. Cal will also lend his expertise to the players from a rehabilitation perspective when they are returning from Injury and has also set up corporate deals for the players and families which is again great for the club.

We shall work with Cal and the team throughout the season while we are scheduling our sessions and continue to use this fantastic facility that the players now have, to benefit them and the club as a whole.

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