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INTERVIEW: Ready to meet it head on

23 May 2014

Tony Caig on the challenge of next season

Keeper coach Tony Caig spoke to us about the importance of goalkeepers being able to use mistakes as a learning tool if they are to progress and move on in today’s modern game.

“I was lucky enough to play the game for a long time and, as you get to the end of your career, you tend to find that mistakes don't affect you in the way they used to,” he said. “Any mistake, however big or small, was the end of the world in your early 20s. Once you get to the mid to late 30s you know it's a mistake which you need to isolate and put to one side so you can think about it later, without it affecting your game. 

“The isolated mistakes are the ones you can look at and know you could do the same things 1000 times in training and not make the same mistake again. If it's happening a lot then you need to make sure you remove it from your game, but it’s important to know the difference. 

“It does become a psychological thing and I've seen some keepers who aren't necessarily the best goalkeeper, in physical terms, have a really strong mind and become a great goalkeeper. They make very few errors and they communicate well, and that can make them much better all round than someone who is perhaps bigger or stronger. It comes down to the presence you need to have when you go in goal. If you can get both the mental and the physical side right then you are going to be a top class keeper.”

“The profile for a good goalkeeper actually depends on the country you play in,” he told us. “In Spain, for example, it isn't as important to be tall because you're dealing with a different type of football. Height is more of an issue in England and Germany because you tend to find we use more balls into the box.” 

"When you look at Mark Gillespie I think you find that he's the perfect profile for us,” he explained. “We're looking for another goalkeeper of a similar profile, but we probably won't find somebody at Mark's level just yet. If we do, then that’s great but, if not, we want somebody who can get to that level and challenge Mark along the way. 

“It was massive for him to be on the bench for the last game of the season. We talked about it long and hard because Greg Fleming did well for us when he was called upon. He got us through against Boreham Wood, he had a good game against Brentford and another good game against Sunderland. 

“We got to the end of the season and Mark had been fit for a couple of weeks, he'd been doing full training and he felt good, but he hadn't had the opportunity of playing in games. That was a problem, but we didn't want to rush him because we had Jordan [Pickford] here anyway. We thought it would be good for Mark to be involved in the dressing room because it would get him used to the first team environment again. We felt that was important for him.”

“I'm expecting Mark to get back to the levels we saw from him at the back end of last season, and the first part of this one,” he told us. “He's more than capable of producing that again and I actually think he'll come back physically and mentally stronger. 

“He's had six months out and he's never let his head drop in terms of his rehab or anything. Whatever has been thrown at him – gym work, extra sessions, whatever – he’s taken it on and asked for more. That’s the sign of a very good professional.”

“I think we’re all just looking forward to getting back now,” he concluded. “Next season will be a challenge, there is no doubt about that, but it’s one we are all ready to meet head on.”

Click HERE for the first part of this interview. 

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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