Youth coach Alan Moore ahead of the season openerYouth coach Alan Moore spoke to us about the LFE trip to Holland ahead of the season opener against Fleetwood on Saturday.
"Our trip to Holland was fantastic," he said. "The LFE organised it very well and everything was prepared to the finest detail. We had people on the plane with us to make sure we got to where we were supposed to be going and there was always a bus ready for us, wherever we wanted to go.
"The training facilities and the food were excellent. There was nothing else you could have looked for. We're a youth team but if I was a first team manager I would have been pleased with the trip. The facilities were outstanding and we stayed in a hotel with Millwall so we were able to play a game against a Category Two team while we were out there.
"We shared knowledge with them and the players got to train with Dutch coaches four times over the course of the two weeks. They got to play against a different style of football and they also watched the Charity Shield over there, which was useful for them."
"We saw the lads develop during the two weeks," he told us. "You could see the team spirit come out. It also gave us a chance to see what they were eating and how they were conducting themselves on a day-to-day basis which was very beneficial for us.
"The first thing we noticed when we came back was the difference in facilities. The junior clubs over there have got two full sized 4G pitches, two full sized grass pitches and a club house all available.
"The weather helps as well because you can go up to the facilities any time you like. We had to train early in the morning and later in the evening. The lads had to go to bed in the afternoon to stay out of the sun and make sure they were preparing properly.
"That was a bit of an eye opener for the lads because they had to acclimatise to being a professional footballer for the first time. We paired the first years with the second years in the rooms, so the first years got a bit of an insight as to what is expected. As a whole the lads behaved themselves excellently and represented the club very well."
"In terms of building the team spirit it was an invaluable experience," he agreed. "They were doing everything together day in, day out and they got to know each other more than they ever would. There were lads who were quiet when we first went out but they certainly weren't when we came back.
"We also got to know the players better from a coaches point of view. Usually we see them for a few hours, and they go away, and we don't know what they're eating or what they're doing. That is something we need to understand as coaches because there are different personalities in the group and we've got to manage them differently."
"The big thing we noticed from the trip is the movement from players off the ball," he explained. "When you go into Europe you expect the players to be technically very good and to be able to handle the ball.
"The movement off the ball to get into positions is one of the things we're going to look at from the matches. We're going to watch the Breda game again, even though we lost on Saturday, because it was an excellent game of football. Their movement off the ball was something our lads weren't used to. We adapted as the game went on but our lads got a bit of a runaround in the first 20 minutes."
Ahead of the first league game of the season against Fleetwood on Saturday, he said: "The lads don't seem too nervous at the moment. We've got a couple of injuries so it will be interesting for the first years. It's a game I expect will be played at 100mph.
"Fleetwood have already played their first game so they've got that out of the way. We're just looking at development of players and we'll see how they cope. We've got four games in two weeks so they'll come thick and fast."
"Some of the second years have come back different players from how they left us last season," he commented. "We're looking at the development of the players and we've already identified a couple that we want to get out on loan after this two week block of games.
"Matty Douglas is one who we feel needs to be challenged at a higher level. He'll go out earlier than the others and we'll see how he adapts to men's football. We'll then get U16s involved to take the place of the second years so we'll be a young group again this year. I don't mind that because our overall aim is to develop players.
"We aren't too interested in trying to win the league. I want my players to be developed and challenged. If that happens we'll have done our jobs and given them the best chance possible. That's why we will look to send them out on loan. I believe all players need to be challenged and Matty Douglas has had two years of youth team football. He's one who needs to go to the next level at this stage."
"The amount of training our lads have had with the first team over pre-season has really benefitted them," he continued. "It was interesting to see how the first years adapted to training with professionals because they'd never done it before.
"They all did really well. When we were away we reminded them of what the pros do, because they take every training session seriously and there are no ifs, buts or maybes. You have to compete and give 100%. If that's the level our lads want to get to they need to watch the senior players and remember what it was like to train with them.
"We had a reflection log while we were in Holland which the players had to do with LFE. We also watched games while we were out there and the players reflected on them. The players also reflected on other players in the team and gave each other positives and negatives so they're looking at the squad as a whole.