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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 22 January, 2020
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Pints v pasta: Your step-by-step guide to big match preparation

Which path do you take?

Image: ©INPHO/Tom Honan

AH, THE BANK Holiday weekend.

With the winter finally taking some mercy on our poor pitches, this is the annual chance to make some inroads into all those fixtures lost to unplayable pitches and high winds between October and April.

The change in conditions should probably bring about a change in approach to preparation and tactics. Yet somehow, there will always be players who can’t help but get it wrong while others endeavour and put their lives on hold to ensure they are in optimum condition at kick-off.

Both types of clubman are equally committed, of course. But outside of that most important 60, 70, 80 or 90 minutes in your week, there are two very differing schools of thought (or thoughtlessness) dividing the average club.

Which one are you?

The night before

The committed ’pro’

Image credit: Shutterstock.

You have a solid couple of training sessions under your belt from midweek. You even got out for a quick run to keep the legs in good order.

The night before a game is a time for putting your feet up, carbo-loading and making sure all your gear is clean and ready to go in the bag.

The ‘raw talent’

It’s time for in-depth tactical discussion…

Image credit: Shutterstock.

Six pints, three packets of crisps and a burger and chip later, he’s safely tucked up in bed getting five and a half quality hours of beauty sleep.

Morning

The committed ’pro’

He had the alarm set, but the birds chirping outside the window woke him before it went off. First things first; he hydrates that temple of a body before fueling up a little more with a tasty dried wheat cereal.

Geoff Caddick/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Studs tightened (and alternate boots with moulded grips packed), you throw a banana in alongside the extra bottle of water in your gear bag.

The ‘raw talent’

‘Blaaang, blaaang, BLLAAANG, BLLAAANG!’.

Credit: Imgur

It’s the fourth time you’ve heard that sound this morning and you’ve finally realised it’s there to remind you to get your game face on.

You get up, slide into the same clothes you took off last night and take a gulp from a carton of orange juice while raiding the press for your bag. No need to check it, it’s untouched since you limped home two training sessions ago.

The away trip

The ‘pro’

On a bus? Time to catch up with all the craic you missed out on last night… or put your headphones in and start visualising in-game scenarios.

All the while the words of Roy M Keane are swirling in your head: ‘Fail to prepare and prepare to fail.’

Martin Rickett/PA Archive/Press Association Images

If your team can’t afford to hire a bus, you’re one of the four or five who have kindly offered to drive.

The ‘raw talent’

He arrives a good 20 minutes after everyone was ready to go. His first (and fastest) run of the day is around the corner with a breakfast roll in hand and into the last seat.

Credit: Livingontheline.org

His lateness won’t preclude him from putting those sauce-covered fingers all over the radio controls and the only mantra running through thathead is ‘Here comes the hot-steppa..’

Home game

The ‘pro’

He’s there early, obviously, and you lend a hand in marking out the pitch and hanging nets. Manager’s pet, he does away with the banana while togging out. Then it’s time for that comprehensive warm-up.

©INPHO/William Cherry/Presseye

The ‘raw talent’

Fashionably late, just in time for the jerseys to be handed out. You still get starting because of that sweet left boot of yours. You get your adrenaline pumping your own way.

©INPHO/James Crombie

‘Lads, has anyone got spare studs?’

Your warm-up consists of kicking your heels up while you tie the strings on your shorts, then trying to hit the crossbar from 30 yards.

Game time

The ‘pro’

He does all the simple things right on the pitch. Mr Reliable, no need for anything spectacular.

He’ll do a job wherever he is picked to play. Also remains disciplined throughout, gets on with the game and gives constructive criticism but no lip to the referee, his manager or any of the players.

Credit: Imgur

The ‘raw talent’

A free spirit. No matter where he is told to play, you’ll find him roaming around in the trequartista role. Could do shag all for 99 of his time on the field but does occasionally pop up with a piece of brilliance.

Credit: Imgur

The first 20 minutes are crucial to finding out who he’ll have a running battle with today. Loves to give the ref and his marker a piece of his mind. Has picked up more than his fair share of reds in his career.

Half time

The ‘pro’

You’re first in to the huddle and swig away at a bottle of water while the manager has his say. Then you follow up with some precise tactical instructions for particular individuals.

Lee Jin-man/AP/Press Association Images

The ‘raw talent’

Having joined the team talk late after a rushed visit to the nearest hedge, he disregards the considered analysis of his first half and proceeds to bawl words like ‘stuck in’, ‘pride’ and ‘track back’.

He is only willing to do two of these things himself.

Second half

The ‘pro’

Very little changes. Continues to clock up the kilometers on his way to a solid performance. However, he does begin to have more of an influence as the game wears on and all around him wilt.

The ‘raw talent’

That ‘pride’ lasts all of five minutes as he berates a team-mate for taking a shot on rather than squaring the ball to him. The will to burst a gut also fades as his gut is pretty much bursted by a 20-metre sprint in chase of the winger that dispossessed him.

His game his over after 55 minutes as he lashes out with heavy legs and gives the ref dog’s abuse on his way off for good measure.


YouTube credit:  toysreviews

Post match

The ‘pro’

3-0. You take the defeat on he chin and attempt to rally the team into a big turn-out at training in midweek.

You lead the warm-down.

The ‘raw talent’

Your post-match analysis begins with his apology for letting the team down. They all refuse to let you shoulder the blame.


YouTube credit: weglcq

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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