The pre-season for the players, which normally starts during the first week of July, is the most gruelling time for the players, as they endeavour to recover their fitness and relinquish any added weight gained. Initial training would have been based on running, where for the first two weeks, no ball work would take place at most clubs, the players are monitored very closely, to protect them from any possible muscle problems or tears, light gym work also takes place.
Each player’s general fitness would have been machine monitored, as the training schedule is increased. Training sessions generally start at 10am, and can last for up to 2 hours, where sessions will most probably extend into the afternoon, with gaining fitness a priority.
Any new additions to a manager’s squad, are closely observed, with the manager speaking regularly to any new player, as he looks to integrate the player into his squad, quickly and effectively. The manager would outline the club’s philosophy, and what is expected of him.
Alongside the training, friendly matches will have been played, normally after the two week period, in which training would have been increased with ball work, where 5 a sides would have been incorporated, so each player is continually active, receiving frequent touches of the ball. This format will further improve a player’s fitness, as they are continually making short angled runs, with one touch football being encouraged, to speed up their ball work. During the friendly matches, the manager will ascertain to use all his squad players, as he rotates his squad, observing each of his player’s progress.
The manager will have prioritised each player in their starting positions in the team, as he looks to install his intended system, with tactics and organisation into each player’s mindset.
Furthermore in training, 11 a side matches would have taken place, with the club’s youth players taking part. The manager would have instructed his players to be very careful with their tackles, any injuries sustained would hinder the manager’s pre-season preparation.
The goalkeepers would eventually be separated from the outfield players, as their particular training, is more of a specialised nature, the technical side for the keepers, with intensive training, will take place with the club’s specialised goalkeeping coaches.
An insight into the pre-season training which has taken place for our clubs:
The manager will later separate his defence, midfield, and forwards, he will work methodically on each area of his team in this three group format, later again starting with 11 asides, as he strives to link his intended first 11 into his team’s ethos.
Once the season begins, a footballer’s life will slightly change from the pre-season training. During the season, the week normally starts with warm up exercises, coupled with light training, increasing with intensity, during the sessions. For midweek matches, the players are usually afforded a rest day before a match, followed by another rest day the day after a match, with only injured players returning to the club for treatment.
This applies to home matches, for long distance matches, the players are in hotels the day before a match. For many of the big clubs, the players can also be encamped in a hotel, for home matches as well. A manager frequently will have his squad at the opposition’s stadium a day before the match, so his players can make themselves familiar with the pitch and the stadium, this is generally allowed by the home team, and is particularly prevalent for European away matches, where the away team will be allowed to train on the opposition’s pitch.
Managers on occasions will have training sessions immediately after a match, on a rest day, if he has been dissatisfied with his team’s performance. The same generally applies for weekend matches, but a manager’s preparation can be disrupted by altering television schedules, which the clubs have to adhere to, with huge sums of money coming from this source.
Players will also be encouraged to visit various community projects, visit hospitals, and charitable causes at the club’s discretion. Many players take it on board to arrange these visits themselves.
Many of the managers designate most of the training to their team of coaches, where as others play a much more active role in training.
Other areas of a manager’s domain is dealing with the media, monitoring scouting reports, youth development, attention to detail and methodical preparation is the aim for all managers alike in their quest for the perfect start to the season ahead, as the pre-season training is highlighted as a hectic and busy schedule.