First of all, the most obvious question - as a coaching team, what are you looking for in pre-season?
Jesus: “To build up the fitness levels and everything related to match preparation for each player. It’s clear inside the squad we have different groups because some players will have less preparation time to be ready for the Premier League, so that’s why we need to be very clinical and individualise their programmes as much as we can. However, the players know us, a lot have been working with us for three years now and therefore they know how they have to prepare before they start to work at the Training Centre. We expect the players to build their specific fitness before they arrive back.”
Below: Jesus keeps a close watch on training on Friday
How much of a challenge is it when half the squad have been involved in international football over the summer (six of our players were involved when England played France on June 12) and therefore don’t arrive back from their break until two weeks into pre-season?
Jesus: “That’s why every player is different, every person is different. Of course, there are general principles around the team but the most important thing is to provide the player what he needs for each moment. Of course we want to start the season in the best condition and that’s the aim, but we look at the players like a holistic system and our responsibility is to them day by day and to provide the best path for them. Some players will get their best form quickly, some players need to build slowly and that’s the beauty of our job. We have one squad, let’s say 25 players and then we have 25 different programmes.”
How long does it take the coaching team in the summer to detail these individual programmes? When do you start?
Jesus: “Before the end of last season we had a meeting with each player and presented off-season programmes and personal targets. It’s been a three-year process educating them and they know themselves better than anyone, I’m pretty sure they will respect those programmes and do even more, because they all want to get better and better. We are at a level where the players are not just fighting to play, but fighting to match previous performances. We’re in a good place to work with them.”
Below: Michel Vorm takes the V02 test earlier this week
There is a lot of trust there…
Jesus: “Yes, and I think that’s most important, to trust each other and that is the way to be better. It’s clear from the beginning of the process that the focus was on volume of work and principles, now we are working more on details and it’s easier to identify personal targets and the best methodology. But we never stand still. We have changed the whole gymnasium, the technology and we’re working on different aspects we were assessing last summer. We hope it will work out better for them again.”