Notts County’s all-time leading goal-scorer and club ambassador Les Bradd delivers his first blog on the official site.
Pre-season games can cause supporters to carried away. There’s often speculation of promotion on the back of a win or relegation following defeat but, in reality, these games cannot be looked into too much at all.
One season, I remember that we lost all of our pre-season games and then went on to gain promotion under Jimmy Sirrel. Pre-season workouts are just that - glorified training sessions - particularly in the early stages.
Experienced pros especially will gradually build themselves up so that they peak in the opening game. That’s why you’ll see players pulling out of risky tackles in the warm-up fixtures, as 50/50 challenges aren’t worth sustaining injuries over when it’s the competitive matches that matter.
I’ll always remember Jimmy passing on instructions to big Brian Stubbs… “Brian, go easy, aye son.” It was basically a message for him to put people into Row A rather than Row Z as everyone built up their fitness - and not to scare off any future opposition in our pre-season preparations.
As the games progress, you’d see the intensity pick up and Brian would start getting into the rhythm by putting strikers into Rows S and T, before getting into the full swing of things in time for the league. That’s when you’d see him winning 70/30 challenges and unleashing 20-yard slide tackles.
It’s the same in the modern day, only expectations are greater as the meetings are no longer held behind closed doors. If fans pay good money to watch their team, they want to see a team that gives everything to win - and that’s totally understandable.
But, the players have to look after their bodies and not do too much too soon. You’ll also see the teams mixed up to help ease the boys back in but it also gives younger players an opportunity to shine and for the backroom team to discover their strongest 11 and tactics.
It’s a time for testing and it’s exactly why you see such a mixed bag of results at all levels. With the season fast approaching, I’m sure Shaun and Greg will already be formulating an idea for their starting 11 and the demands will be upped to ensure that everyone is firing on all cylinders ready for the trip to Preston North End on 9 August.
The winning mentality can only really kick in when you’ve got an idea of the starting 11 and the tactical system. So, don’t get too caught up with what you’re seeing in pre-season.
I’ve no doubt that the players will be ready on the opening day. That’s the time to judge because you’ll see a 100 per cent, full throttle Notts County and I can’t wait to see the team in action.