United’s squad is facing a pre-season session of a different kind this morning as they take on the sand dunes along the beaches of Lytham St Annes with a series of gruelling tests to be overseen by boss Steven Pressley.
“We’re going to go to the sand dunes near Blackpool as a planned part of our pre-season package,” he explained. “I took the Fleetwood squad there a few years ago and I saw then that it’s a good thing to do.
“It will be quite a tough day for the lads, but they’ll enjoy it. They’ll be involved in a lot of team building exercises, as well as some gruelling runs.
“It will be about pushing the players to the edge of their abilities, which is part of what I want to do in pre-season to show them just what they’re capable of. Exercises like this allow us to test the players mentally as well.
“These things all help you to form your group because once you get through these days there is a real sense of achievement. Players will naturally have to encourage and coax each other and that’s where your spirit and unity will come from.”
“The human body is an amazing thing,” he continued. “You’d be surprised at the levels it can take you to. I’ve been there so many times myself where a coach lays out the session and you think to yourself – I can’t get through this. It’s an amazing feeling when you do.
“It’s about taking the players to the edge and to that point where they realise and start to believe that they can do more. That’s the mentality we want to build at this football club.
“I’ve said this a number of times, but a player who is at the highest degree of fitness can perform well within everything that’s asked of him. Fitness is a huge gift that a manager can give to his players.”
With the package having been planned in tandem with strength and conditioning coach Dave Waldie, he said: “There’s a lot more research and a much deeper through process which goes into your pre-season these days.
“A big part of our pre-season is an 11v11 game we play. It’s a game that’s almost like basketball with the way it’s played, so it’s non-stop and it’s really intense and gruelling.
“Along with that we’ll have team bonding sessions and other very physical and testing activities which will push everybody to their limits. I’ve been very transparent with all of our potential signings and I’ve told them what to expect.
“I’ve told every one of our players that they aren’t just signing a contract financially, they’re signing a contract to buy into what we want here. I want a team and a group that supporters are proud of.
“I think in general supporters can accept disappointments if they see a team of players that are playing for the jersey. I’ve shown the new lads footage of what to expect, so there are no excuses for them. They know what they’re coming into, they maybe just didn’t expect it as quickly as today!”
“The next five or six weeks is about bringing the team together so we’re ready for that Crawley game,” he told us. “During pre-season there will be disappointments in our performances in the friendlies, but that’s good during pre-season because it means you can fix the problems there and then. The most important thing then is that we’re ready to go for Crawley.”
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