Jabo Ibehre on working hard during pre-seasonUnited striker Jabo Ibehre returned for pre-season training on Monday firing on all cylinders as he finished at or near the front of all of the individual activities set by the coaching staff.
The big forward, who notched 17 goals last season, was given an extra few days off last week as the squad returned to work last Thursday, and manager Keith Curle explained why that was the case when he spoke to the press at his weekly press conference.
“Jabo wanted to come in last week but I wanted to look after him,” Curle said. “That’s because I know this club wants him to be here. It was tough for him for a period last season, with the illness he had within his family, and I appreciated the fact he put the work in to help the team despite that.
“You have to know your players and I was happy to say ‘take the extra two days mate’ last week. That was a reward for the way he committed to the club last season through that difficult personal period and I feel he earned a bit of support going the other way.
“I know it’s been appreciated by Jabo because he can see that he’s valued within the group and within my thinking at the football club.”
As far as the man himself is concerned, he confirmed that he’s just happy to be back with the group.
“I can’t ask for more than how the manager treats me and I appreciate what he does for me,” he said. “He does the same for the team as well but he wanted to make sure I came back in the right frame of mind and ready to go.
“The way to pay him back for that is to work hard from minute one, as I tried to do today, and as I will do all the way through pre-season and into the season itself.
“Part of the conversation I had with the manager was to reassure him that I’d come back ready to push on. I was watching the lads last week via the official Persicope and it was fantastic to see them putting the effort in. It does make you want to be part of it.”
And having been through an extremely intense session, he said: “I picked a good day to come back, didn’t I!
“You come into pre-season to put the hard work in because it puts you in good stead for the season. I knew I had to come back in good shape and try to get off to another strong start.
“I always try to work hard in pre-season because I always want to build on what I did the year before. It was pleasing the way I started and finished the season last year and the challenge is to better that and to be more consistent.”
“There’ll be competition with Charlie [Wyke] and Shaun [Miller] for leading goal scorer but that’s how it is and that’s what you want,” he insisted. “That type and level of competition will help us all to be successful.
“We have some great new signings and I’ve played with Mike Jones before. He’s a superb competitive player and we’ve got ourselves a strong squad. It’s full of players who know the division and who know how to get out of it. That will make us better as a squad and it will improve us as individuals.
“As I said, it’s a squad full of people who have the experience of getting promoted and they bring the intelligence and know-how into the group. We were just a bit short last season so hopefully we’ll go one better this time.”
“This is a place where I’m happy because we do things for a reason,” he concluded. “My first day back has been a tough one but it’s all about making you better at what you do. I want to find new levels this year and you can only do that if you put the work in.
“Being honest, I really just want to get to the matter of playing games. What you can’t get away from is that you need the pre-season stuff to get you ready in the first place. Do this work and you go into the matches sharper and ready because what we do in that first game at Portsmouth will set the bar for the season.”