In the second part of our interview with goalkeeper coach Craig Wight, he talks about being proud when a goalkeeper collects an award or pulls off a save, and the futures of both Adam Collin and Louis Gray.
“It’s important that the goalkeeping department is something that every goalkeeper and goalkeeper coach at the club can be proud of," he said. "Adam won awards at the weekend, but that’s something that Louis and myself can be proud of as well.
"We can look at it and know that we helped that happen. It obviously is down to Adam to do his job, but we’ve helped hm do that job. There is a massive sense of pride when you see Adam collecting those awards on Sunday.
"It’s been an unbelievable year when I think about it, because I started in League Two in Scotland with Stirling Albion on a part-time basis, and then came here. At Stirling, my goalkeeper there won player of the season and young player of the season, then obviously Adam won all of his awards.
"I was sitting at home watching the Man City game thinking ‘that really did happen’. I’ve got a tremendous sense of pride because I know I helped that.
“Like I said, I didn’t do it and Adam did all the work, but I helped it happen. Some of Adam’s saves have been unbelievable. The one against Cambridge at home where it was the little cut back and it went low down to his right, that’s one you don’t coach.
"It’s not something you would set up in training, it’s just instinctive. Because his footwork and his movement is good, you can take a bit of credit for that, but the actual reaction to go back on himself like that isn’t something you coach. Sometimes you throw in the rebound board and do reaction saves, but even that produces different saves to that Cambridge one.
“There are a lot of saves he’s made that I look at and think ‘we did that in training this week’. Again, I’m not taking all of the credit, because Adam still has to make the save, but it’s pleasing when you think about how the training session gets put together and how it can relate to a game, so to then see him pull it off is a good feeling."
“Like I say, some of the saves have been unbelievable," he continued. "You do just sit back and think ‘wow’. When those saves happen I become a fan, and I’m sitting on the bench clapping. Tommy gives me all sorts of stick, but you do just have to sit back and admire it sometimes. It’s very pleasing as a coach when that happens.
“I know the manager has said he trusts me enough to leave me to it, which is great, because it means I can look at what we’ll do in training and just get on with it. That’s worked well for us this season, so the key is to have it work the same, if not better, next year."
On the current situation with Collin and Gray, he explained: “There’s always things in place and we’re prepared if either, both or neither of our current goalkeepers are at the club next season.
"Once we get decisions from both of them, it’s then down to us to work out which goalkeepers would fit within our squad if one of them decides to leave. It would make me very happy if both Adam and Louis stayed with us, because we can then take the work we’ve done this year and develop it.
"They’ll have a better understanding of me and I’ll have a better understanding of them, so it makes it easier to progress. I’ve obviously made my recommendation that both of them should be here, but it’s now out of my hands.
“If both of them choose not to stay then they’ll go with my best wishes, and I’ll do everything I can do help them be ready for wherever they go next. If we do have to bring in a new goalkeeper, I don’t think that’s a challenge because there are goalkeepers everywhere. We’ll be able to find good ones, it’s about finding the right ones for us, and ones that fit with our football club and how we want to progress."
“Although we’ve just finished the season, I already can’t wait for the next one," he admitted. "If someone said we were starting tomorrow, I would be happy. I like doing what I do, I enjoy coaching because it’s different every single day. As a goalkeeper coach you can be more of a counsellor than a coach at times, because there is so much emotion with the position.
“In terms of next season, personally I don’t like putting definite targets on things such as a number of clean sheets we’re aiming for and things like that. It puts so much pressure on people.
"If we can follow what we’ve done so far then it gives us a chance to be successful as a club. I know the goalkeepers will have their own personal goals, but they won’t get any from me because I don’t want to put that pressure on them.
“I’ve worked a lot with Louis this year to try and get him to not put so much pressure on himself to be successful and on allowing the success to happen. In a typical 45-60-minute goalkeeper training session they could face up to 80 shots. If you look at a standard game, you maybe face seven.
"If you mishandle one or two out of 80, it’s actually not bad when you compare it to a match. If you can take away the pressure to be clean and tidy with all 80, you can accept mishandling one or two because then, when you then face seven in a match, generally they’re going to be pretty clean.
“Adam understands that, which of course comes with experience, and he’s learned how to accept one or two mishandles in a training session because he knows, when it comes to a game day, he’ll be fine with the seven or eight shots he faces."
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