Town target universal playing style and increased sports science expertise
Marcus Evans has revealed that Town will be accelerating, in the season ahead, the Club’s blueprint to evolve a universal playing style across all age groups, supported by a closer alignment between the Academy and the first-team and an increased use of sports science and technology to aid players’ fitness, recovery and injury prevention.
There will also be a clear pathway for coaches to progress at the Club and younger players will be given every resource possible to enable them to adapt quicker to the rigours of first-team football.
The new look working environment will have Town boss Paul Hurst at the centre of the strategy, supported by a sports science and medical team on a par in terms of quality man for man with the best Premier League clubs.
“It’s a new era and a key part of my vision for the Club moving forwards is to create an innovative and modern culture in the way we operate at the training ground in the development of players and coaching staff,” Town owner Marcus told the Club website.
“We already have a good foundation in place and now we want to take the best of what we have and enhance it.
“As we have always done in the past, the manager will have full authority in the running of the football side of the Club and he will be ably supported by Chris Doig and existing staff covering coaching, sports science, medical, fitness and recruitment.
“A key responsibility of Paul’s will be to oversee our evolving strategy to develop a playing style as well as a fitness and mental attitude ethos throughout all aspects of the Club, and to work with Bryan Klug and the Club’s coaches who will translate these goals as appropriate through all age groups.
“To further assist the transition of players from one squad to the next there will be greater involvement of coaches across the board, so our U23 coaches will be part of the first-team set-up, while Paul and Chris will have an active role within the U23s and U18s where possible.
“Sports science is becoming an increasingly important area of the weaponry at clubs and we are making great strides forward in this area and that will continue.
“Lee O’Neill [Academy manager] will head up this department and will be supported by a soon to be appointed first-team sports scientist and fitness coach, ensuring we transfer best practice in fitness and medical across all squads with a goal to significantly increase availability for minutes on the pitch for all players.”
Town lost David McGoldrick, Tom Adeyemi, Emyr Huws, Teddy Bishop and Andre Dozzell for long periods of last season and while injuries are part of the game, Blues’ expanding partnership with Dr Gavin Devereux and the University of Suffolk will put the Club in a better position to reduce the risk of injury going forward.
“We will be monitoring players closely through training and games using GPS techniques,” explained Lee.
“We will also be in a position to step up our observation of players’ well-being, looking for signs of fatigue, nutritional needs, making sure their sleep patterns are right. We will be doing saliva, hormone and cortisol tests.
“There will be a constant screening of players’ physical needs using the most advanced equipment in bio mechanics to aid strength and conditioning.
“It is all designed to give players from first-team to Academy the best possible chance of reaching their maximum potential physically and of course, reduce the risk of injury.
“This area of the game is only part of the evolving jigsaw puzzle that makes up a football team and it’s there for the manager to take what he wants from it but it’s important we provide the best support service we can to the players and coaching staff.”
Paul was proactive in the use of sports science at Shrewsbury, with the club considered to be one of the fittest sides in League One despite having one of the smallest squads. Whilst the new Town boss will look for his players at Portman Road to play on the front foot, he also stresses the importance of doing the basics right.
“I won’t be reinventing the game. The requirements of hard work and commitment will be there,” he said.
“I will be looking for the players to give their all. That should be a minimum requirement in any team but it doesn’t always work out like that.
“From that base, I want us to play on the front foot though. I want to have energy and intensity in our performance and above all, I will be encouraging the players to go out and play and enjoy their job.
“I have always tried to do that wherever I have been as a manager. To get players to enjoy the way they play on a football pitch.”