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INTERVIEW: It's about setting high standards

First team coach Nathan Rooney on settling in at Brunton Park

9 August 2019

Having joined the club just two weeks before the season kicked off, first team coach Nathan Rooney knew that it was a case of needing to hit the ground running with the important business of league and cup fixtures to prepare for and attend to.

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And he spoke recently about how the process of settling in had been made that much easier because of the rapport he’d built up with manager Steven Pressley when the pair worked together at Fleetwood.

“I know how the gaffer works, nothing will change with that,” he confirmed. “He’s straight down the line, he’s honest, his football is the same.

“If you can sing off the same hymn sheet and can deliver what he wants, you’re near enough there with him. We obviously worked together three or four years ago now and just over time we’ve kept in contact with things.

“I went abroad at the same time he went abroad to Pafos, so it was that kind of interaction, finding out the best way to deal with different cultures, etc. Steven obviously knows my background, from being a development coach with him at Fleetwood, meaning I’m well experienced with the younger players, but also with the young pros who need that boot now and again, should we say.

“I’m hands on from a coaching point of view. The gaffer will get his research when he requires it, he’ll also get that proactive attitude out on the grass. You can’t just be stood there, you’re here for a reason – you’ve got to implement those things and work off the manager’s philosophy. I know that kind of work inside out.”

“I think we get on so well because it’s the type of characters we are,” he commented. “We look to have a laugh, day-in, day-out. I just think the professionalism that bounces off the manager, that’s what I am as well.

“I understand my role with him, he likes that, to give people the responsibility to do their job rather than constantly being on top of people. It’s just a strong relationship we have. We talk about the same way of playing.

“We’re excited about the Liverpool way ... the manager has talked about counter-attacking football and relentless pressure. I think when you can watch a game of football together and diagnose it in the way we do, it’s exciting.

“If you look at the modern trends, and we’ve we had a laugh about it in the office – the manager comes across in an aggressive manner, but it’s not, it’s just setting and driving standards.

“The way we play in the 4-3-3 set-up, and press the game, well, why sit off a game? Why sit back and observe the opposition playing when you can be out there, winning the ball back early and creating things in the final third. Same things, same messages, same type of sessions, let’s follow it through.

“Like I say, the manager wants a proactive attitude. In the office we share, we turn up for the morning meeting like every club, we get messages across, we speak on the phone at 11.50 at night, sometimes even later than that. We’re talking it, we’re eating it, we’re breathing it, and that’s it. Preparation is good.”

As for his first impressions of Brunton Park, he told us: “It’s a massive club. We all know that, not just through history, but I also think over the last three or four years the club has recruited well.

“Since Steven came in it’s been exciting, high-pressure football. Every time a manager changes, that changes. But from inside the walls it’s a feel-good factor. There’s people who have worked here for many years and when you’ve got your employees who’ve spent so much time it tells you that there’s something good about the club.

“The other people in the coaching staff are brilliant as well. Gavin [Skelton] is a brilliant fella. He’s that man in between who does the legwork, got the smile on his face, that’s the people you need in your environment, and he’s got good links and ties with the club from previous years.

“We’ve got Dave [Waldie] who’s very experienced with the RAF, that brings a lot to the sports science side of the game now, and Craig [Wight] who’s really experienced, good playing background and great enthusiasm out there on the pitch.

“If we can all bounce off each other, it doesn’t matter what idea it is – one idea’s better than none. I think we’ll see some successes along the way.”

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With a reputation for developing younger players, as well as for working well with the senior members of the group, he confirmed that his role will cover many areas of the coaching spectrum as he looks to help the manager to get the best from his squad.

“People have been commenting a lot in the office, saying there’s a lot of good players in the academy dressing room,” he said. “It’s like any club though, you need to strip back the layers and give them the chance to step up and train with the first team boys, which has been the case this pre-season.

“The lads have to know the opportunity will come, but they have to be ready for it. If it’s a lack of numbers, too many numbers, on merit, so be it, they’ll get their shot. The boys who’ve been training with us have been great and they’ve shown a fantastic attitude. You have to do that, it’s relentless work, and you’ll get your rewards if you do it.”

“I’m comfortable with working with players at any level and of any age,” he continued. “At end of the day there’s probably another 1,000 people lining up behind you for your job anyway.

“When you get there you can’t dwell on what people are thinking about you. Even though you might not be a massive name in the game, your reputation and CV stands up for itself. I know players in the dressing room from other players, and you’re only one phone call from the next player. I think your reference and reputation goes before anything else.

“The main thing is to be professional, prepared, wise with everything, and we’ll get there. The boys know what they’re getting every day, everything’s structured, they’ll get their time one on one with me, with Gav and the manager, from the sports science point of view, and the keepers get a lot of attention with Craig. All the players will get the attention, as long as they put in a lot of effort.

“At the end of the day, I know the league and the players I’ve worked with. I might have coached a few players older than me, but I’m delivering the manager’s messages. The boys are clear on that, and that’s how it will remain.”

As for what he wants to see during his time here, he said: “We can’t come into work and hope for nothing less than play-offs. I’d actually like to start hearing people talk about automatic.

“The league’s the league, you can look at which teams have come down and which have come up, that happens every single year. If you stick to your way, you’re going to win and lose games, but there’s always cycles in a season where if you keep yourself in touching distance and have those good people behind you, guiding you constantly, setting those high standards, you’ll go a long way.

“The group has good experience, good leaders in the dressing room – there’s no doubt about that – and the youngsters are exciting. If it’s one year, two, three years here, however long it goes, I want to see Carlisle be successful.

“I know the lads will apply themselves in every game. We have good leaders, and I just think if they can deliver what they’re doing on the training field then let’s be excited. Cup runs, league games, whatever, we’ll give everything for the club and the fans.”

Click HERE to watch an interview with Nathan Rooney on iFollow United now.

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