Academy manager Alan Moore on the pre-season Holland trip
Academy manager Alan Moore spoke to us from the training camp in Holland as the two-week trip, sponsored by League Football Education, draws to a close.
“I think I can honestly say the trip has been better than what we expected it to be,” he said. “The facilities at the hotel are absolutely top class, so it really has exceeded our expectations.
“The LFE and the staff have pulled out all of the stops for the day to day administration and the games have been a great learning experience for the lads. They’ve come up against a different style of football and they’ve acquitted themselves well.
“Millwall are staying here with us, so we were able to play them, and we then played an U21 side on Saturday who gave us a real physical test. The Belgian side on Wednesday night provided more of a technical test but, as I say, we coped well with it and the lads have taken a lot from everything they’ve done.”
“For many of our younger players this will be their first experience of being away from home like this,” he continued. “We’ve kept them under a tight rein and we’ve reminded them that they’re here to learn and that they need to conduct themselves as professional representatives of their club.
“They have to be at certain places at certain times, and they know they will be fined if they don’t make it. Luckily enough we haven’t had to do that so they’ve really bought in to what the trip is about.
“They’re getting used to the concept of resting between double sessions, staying out of the sun so that doesn’t affect them, and preparing themselves for the work they have to do. It was 33 degrees over here on Monday and 28 degrees today, so the temperatures are high for most of the time. They have to make sure they look after themselves through that because they have the scheduled games to play and prepare for as well.”
“I have to say their behaviour has been exemplary,” he commented. “They’ve been able to use the hotel facilities, such as the gym and the swimming pool, and we’ve had nothing but praise from the staff who have dealt with us.
“It’s a fantastic place for them to be and everywhere we’ve been we’ve seen the difference in attitude towards youth football. Each junior club has two first rate astro-turf pitches as well as a number of grass pitches for training. That’s been the most noticeable thing for all of us.”
“It hasn’t been all hard work though,” he explained. “We had a full day in Amsterdam the other day so we gave them four hours to have a look around. They did some sight seeing and had a stadium tour, and then went back to see the Dutch version of the Charity Shield, which was very good. They were in club tracksuits for that so we were able to keep an eye on them.
“We have another stadium tour with Breda on Thursday and their coaches are going to take one of the training sessions. That means the lads will get to see how the staff over here do things, and the different philosophies and styles of play they employ.
“They had a taste of that last week and, from reading their log books, we can see this whole trip has been really well received. As I say, away from training and games they’ve done other things. Wednesday afternoon was a rest day after the game, so they had a round of football golf, and they relax with quizzes and group activities which have brought everyone much closer together.
“The last game of the tour against Breda on Saturday will be our toughest test yet, but I’m confident that if they approach it properly they’ll get what they want out of the game.”
And on what the coaching staff have made of the pre-season training camp, he said: “We’ve managed to get a lot of shape and technical work done, because the facility has always been available, and that will stand us in good stead.
“They’ve also learned a lot about looking after the football because if you give it away in this heat it can be even harder on your body to have to keep getting it back. We’ve been able to do things we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do so it’s all been very good from our point of view.”