Richie Barker on pre-season training, Radcliffe Borough and plans for the season
‘Saturday’s game at Radcliffe is for the players. We had 20 minutes of 11 v 11 on the training ground on Wednesday and quite a few of them said afterwards that it felt so alien to them. They had lost all concept of playing 11 v 11, so this game is a bit of a carrot at the end of the week and also, just to get used to playing 11 v 11 again.
They have been away for eight weeks, we've been back at it a week so its nine weeks since they last played 11 v 11, you do forget how to do it. All the pre-season games are structured for a reason, the Radcliffe game is to make a start, the Burnley game is to get us used to playing out on the pitch again and as we move on after that they will start to get more and more minutes under their belts, and then start working on shape.
The team that plays at Radcliffe will be pretty random, but after that they will start to get more minutes. We also have a game on Friday against Celtic Under 21’s on the training ground that will give us the chance to make a decision on a few of the trialist’s, but predominantly we will be using the public games as opportunities for the first team and fringe players to get minutes under their belt.
There’s been no movement with regards to more players coming in. I've not had any conversation with anybody about more players arriving. There are one or two people that we are keeping an eye on, but at the minute I am quite happy with what I have got. Anyone that does come in will be coming in to strengthen us and hopefully be better than what we have already got.
The players have been fantastic this week and they have worked extremely hard. As for injuries, we have the usual sore backs and sore knees, but nothing serious. They have been fantastic and already they are fitter than they were nine days ago.
All our plans are for Middlesbrough at home on the 11th August, it’s a good start for us and we are hoping that we can put on a performance than can make people realise that we can compete with bigger clubs. It’s a little bit strange having a cup game as your first game of the season but we will do our best.
We had occasions last year where we had slightly bigger crowds on, but then the game has turned out to be a bit of a damp squib, such as the Oldham game, it wasn’t the most attractive game, but we are doing our best to try and improve that.
We need to be harder to beat, we need to be harder to score against and we need to be a little more knowledgeable in terms of how we approach games. We need to be more rugged and uglier at times. We won’t sacrifice the way we play, but hanging onto a 1-0 lead or a 2-1 lead in the last ten minutes is not always going to be attractive, but the successful teams are the ones that do that. For us to get to the next level, we need to mix it a little bit and do a few different things. The targets for the season is again 50 points and then look on after that.’
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