Our new columnist ‘the Insider’ writes for Football in Bracknell every month from the point of view of someone who has played the game and experienced the ups and downs of a season in non league football on the pitch.
The Insider column will be published on the last Thursday of every month. Previous columns are available here – there’s only one other at the moment!
For a player, pre season can often set the tone for the season. I have been apart of pre seasons where I know that we are going to be in for a really good season, and on the contrary, I’ve been in pre seasons where alarm bells have been ringing early doors.
Reassurance is a must
The first thing that any player wants to know from pre season from the manager is reassurance that you’ll play. I don’t know anyone who is happy to sit on the bench for the majority of the season, and if they get told that you can bet they’ll be on the phone to another club immediately.
The reassurance enables you to be relaxed and just concentrate on your game. This reassurance does not deflect from healthy competition, as that can definitely bring out the best in players; but having the reassurance you’ll be in the squad every week helps put a player at ease.
Preparation is key
For me, the most important aspect of pre season is preparation from the management side. When you see a management team prepared, with aims and clear ways of playing from pre season, you can start to get excited.
I have been involved in a pre season with a certain club that involved having a nearly completely different XI in every pre season fixture up until August. As a player, you would expect the manager to know his starting XI, give or take a player or two, before August.
It was no surprise to me that we struggled until the manager got the axe by October. There have been occasions on the opposite side where managers are so prepared and set in their ways that each player went into every pre season game knowing exactly what the manager wanted. That team got promoted that season. The early pre season games are for trying out new players, the ones towards the end of July and start of August should be prepping for the FA Cup games and start of the league season.
Consistency throughout will bring you success
Whether you are a team that is aiming to gain promotion, or trying to survive, consistency is a vital component to help bring you success. If you look at teams that go up, very rarely do they have 54 players making appearances on the Full Time website.
This is what players like to see. They want to be rewarded for playing well by staying in the team. Teams that have squads of 30 players never work successfully. Team cohesion goes out the window and alarm bells for ambitious players ring.
I’ve always found that if a manager decides to go against his normal ways, especially on the back of a few bad results, it sends the wrong message to players. To me, that shows doubt in the managers trust in the team, and as a player I’d be questioning the managers thinking and loyalty to the players who got to that point.
Does money talk?
The final point that I’d bring up with regards to the new season is the idea of money. Firstly, I have absolutely no problem with people earning money at step 5 and 6 standard.
What I have a problem is, is players who move club for the sake of £10 here or there. Where is the loyalty? And it’s not just the players. Managers are just as bad, flaunting around figures of money that they can offer people which, for the standard, is completely ridiculous.
If a club wants to spend a lot of money, then that’s their choice. But for a player to move club for the sake of a tenner? You need to question whether that is the sort of person you want in your club, and whether that person is going to be able to get you out of trouble when the going gets tough.
The Insider is a look in to the semi professional game from the players point of view. Look out for a new column on the last Thursday of every month. Got a question? Ask via our Contribute page.