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INTERVIEW: A great place to be

3 July 2014

Experienced coach joins the United backroom staff

Another addition to the club backroom staff was confirmed this week when Lee Fearn became the first Sports Science and Conditioning Coach ever to hold such a position at the club.

Fearn, who has worked in Athletics, Golf and with West Brom and Notts County in the world of football, will work closely with the medical teams and coaching staff at all levels of the club as Graham Kavanagh continues to implement changes to the way things run at Brunton Park.

"It's very much a clean slate because I'm the first person to do this job for the football club, so it's very exciting," he said. "First and foremost I will be advising the manager in terms of planning sessions and the fitness work the lads need to do. 

"The trust Kav has put in myself and all of the backroom staff has been really good to see and it's been highly motivating. It's a great club and behind the scenes we're set up to be really successful, which is why I'm so excited to be here."

"In terms of a more global picture of what we're trying to do, we're aiming to develop a fit team which is resilient to injuries. We've got a set of fitness and strength targets which we'll be working on throughout the season to help us to achieve that. 

"If you speak to any fitness coach they'll tell you the key to being successful is having the support of the coaching staff and I already feel like I've got that. You can have the best plans but if there's no buy in or commitment to it then you're always going to struggle. Kav has been really keen to get my ideas and thoughts on things and we've been working together to plan sessions and things like that."

"It's a long term process and for me, at the moment, it's a case of gauging what the players need and what their deficiencies are," he added. "I'll be working closely with Neil [Dalton] and Kav as well as the players throughout pre-season on that side of things. We did an extensive screening session on Tuesday morning and that has given us a base to work from. 

"Every player will be given an individual programme which will give them information about pre-training, their warm ups, conditioning and prehabilitation methods. We'll be working closely with the manager to ensure training is monitored properly and to make sure it's optimal for performance in matches on a Saturday. 

"We'll be introducing a comprehensive gym programme for all players to make sure they're strong enough. League Two is a tough league and we need to make sure the players are all prepared for that as well as they can be."

"This is my fourth football club," he explained. "I started at Coventry City, then moved to West Brom, which was a fantastic experience because it was their best ever Premier League season. I then moved on to Notts County, and we had some difficulties on the pitch, but off the pitch I think we developed one of the most robust squads in the league. Our injury rates last year were superb and I think that made a big difference towards the end of the season. Hopefully that's what I'll bring to Carlisle. 

"I hear a lot about Premier League players being fitter than players in the lower leagues but I don't think that's the case at all. When Notts County played Liverpool last season people thought they'd blow us away physically. If you look at it statistically the teams in the lower leagues actually cover more ground during a match. That's possibly because of technical ability as teams higher up probably keep the ball better and don't need to do as much running about."

"I personally have a key set of principles I like to work to and one thing I must say about the club is that the facilities I've got are second to none," he said. "We've got no excuses on that side of things because I've got everything I could ask for and everything I need to put together a pre-season programme to help me to tick all of the boxes. 

"We know what is right for the players and we know how to get a training response we want. We just have to look at the character of the player to find the best way to deliver it." 

"You do have to look at the characters in the group when you're thinking about the advice you give and the sessions you put on," he confirmed. "Character is one of the big things you start looking for when you meet new players, to be honest. It's good for me to have a scientific understanding of the job at hand, but that isn't enough. You need to be a good people person and a good coach. You have to learn quickly which strategies work with players and which don't. On paper we've got an excellent pre-season schedule lined up and it's just a case of delivering that effectively from now on."

On one of his stated aims of keeping injuries to a minimum, he said: "Myself and Dolly have looked closely at the injuries which have occurred in the past with the players who are still at the club. 

"One of the biggest factors in getting an injury is whether you've had the same type of injury before. That's going to happen sometimes and I'm not going to sit here and say that we'll never get another injury again, because I think that would be putting unfair expectations on ourselves. 

"Looking at previous injuries does allow us to try and prevent them from happening again in the future. It's our job to run conditioning programmes which will hopefully limit the niggly little things like hamstring and groin strains that you can see a lot as the season goes on.  

"There are a lot of components which need to be pulled together to ensure that we're the fittest team we can be. We have to pace ourselves throughout the season and, like I've said, we've got an excellent pre-season planned to enable us to do that. The lads have to drive themselves and the experienced players will be a part of helping that to happen. They'll only get out of it what they put in, so it's up to them to buy into it and do the programme properly. As staff that means we have to implement appropriate recovery times and make sure the players are eating the right things after games as well."

And on his decision to come to Cumbria, he said: "There's a brilliant vibe around the club and everyone has been really welcoming. 

"It's been a great place to be these past few days and I can't get over the feel good factor. What happened last season has gone now and you can tell that everyone at the club is ready to have a real good go at everything as we look forward to the new campaign. 

"I've heard nothing but good things about this club. Obviously Greg [Abbott] is at Notts County, and he spoke very highly, and all of the medical people across football clubs are close and they all have good things to report. 

"Everybody I've spoken to has said how friendly it is and I love the area. It just seemed like a really good opportunity for me when the chance came up. I've moved up here already and I can honestly say that it feels like I've made an excellent decision." 

United Player subscribers can see a video interviews with Lee Fearn now. Click HERE to go to the Player platform. Follow the same link for more information on United Player, and to subscribe.

Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.

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