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INTERVIEW: It doesn't sit right

21 May 2014

Tony Caig on mental strength and pushing forward

Keeper coach Tony Caig spoke to us about the mental strength needed from the men who do the job between the sticks and the ongoing work to take the club forward as preparations continue for next season’s League Two campaign.

“The last few weeks of the season were difficult for everybody,” he told us. “As a keeper you have to be mentally strong and we were lucky to have the people here who could keep doing their jobs, despite the way things were going.

“Jordan [Pickford] was the one who was out there and he is the type of character who can just let things wash off him. If we'd had a defeat, or there was a questionable goal, it wasn't something he allowed to fester. He thinks about it, but he'll put it to one side.

“What you have to accept is that you can only affect the next game. You can’t do anything about what has gone before. Mark [Gillespie] takes a similar mental approach and it wouldn't surprise me to see them both playing against each other at a very high level in the future.”

“I have to be honest and say that relegation affects you massively,” he said. “We're a couple of weeks on from it now and it's still affecting me. You have times where you don't think about it, because we're now very much focused on next season, but every now and then it hits you that what you’re doing is all for playing in League Two. That doesn’t quite sit right with me at the moment.” 

“I’m sure that will change by the time the fixtures come out because we’ve got a job to do,” he confirmed. “What’s happened has happened and we’ve got to make sure we give ourselves the best opportunity of getting off to a good start and having a good season. That’ll be the only thing we think about once we come back.

“It happened to me as a player and I know for a fact it made me stronger. I came back after the summer with more desire than ever, and I don’t think I’ll be any different as a coach. I’ll be helping to put demands on players because we will go into the season with some high expectations. We’ve got to set targets for ourselves because we can’t just expect it to happen for us automatically. We have to get out there and make it happen.” 

“I think it will be easier to get the right kind of buzz around the place because we’ll have the influx of so many new players,” he continued. “They will be unaffected by the relegation we’ve just had and they’ll be determined to make an impact. 

“If we had the same group of players here then it’s possible the process could have been harder for us. Some people can come through it and some can’t. Some use it as a fuel and others let it drag them down. Fresh faces will help us to feel like we’ve got a chance and that we can get things moving again.”

“It has to be a new start for us all,” he insisted. “We can’t allow it to be anything else. We’ve seen before that things start to get exciting once new faces start coming through the door. The optimism starts to build because that’s just the way football is. 

“Our players will look at who has been signed and they’ll feel a real sense of competition for places, and they’ll be ready to get back and show the manager they want a place in the team. That’s the beauty of football because it doesn’t wait around for anyone. You have bad and good moments but you have to make sure you treat both experiences the same. Football leaves you feeling high one week and low the next and it’s important that you find somewhere down the middle with how you feel. If you’re doing your job properly, and doing everything you can to be the best at what you do, then it will turn round.”

On the new challenges League Two will bring, he said: “The approach isn’t really any different. I look at who we play and we have scouting reports done. 

“We look at whether they play with one or two up top, whether they have wide players or not, and what the forwards tend to like to do. You can’t cater for everything, but the more information you have the better it is for your keeper. You don’t want to build it up to make it look like we’re coming up against the next Lionel Messi every week, but it’s good to be able to give a few pointers which might help once we go into the game.

“I’ll have to re-educate myself about what we will come up against because our focus has obviously been on League One. That won’t take too long, but there will be some players we don’t know. We’ll do our work and we’ll be well up to speed by the time the season comes round.”

The summer months usually bring a chance for players and coaching staff to relax, but there’s a sense that things are a little bit more intense at Brunton Park this time round.

“We don’t want to relax too much at the moment,” he said. “We’ve got a lot to do and, even though there aren’t too many announcements on signings at this time of year, there is still a lot of work going on to try to get things in place. 

“There are a lot of players available and they’ll be looking at their options. If you make an offer at this stage they could even feel that this is a little bit too early for them to commit. Compare that to the back end of June and there will literally be hundreds of players who will want to be fixed up. 

“I have no doubt we’ll be offered players when we get to that stage who we can’t even get to speak to at the moment. I think we need to be patient and make sure we find the right players at the right quality, rather than make signings just because we feel we should.”

“We’re already at a point where we’ve spoken to a keeper,” he revealed. “We’re hoping to get that wrapped up as quickly as we can and we should know more either way fairly soon. 

“If we don’t get that one then I do have a list of targets we would be happy to work with. It’s a process which is ongoing and you can never guarantee how it will go. You have to accept that if we know about a player, and we want him, then other clubs will be thinking the same. That’s when things like location and distance come into play, but you just hope you can do the work to get it over the line.”

Click HERE for part two of this interview. 

Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel.

Click HERE to see the full five part interview on United Player.

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