Part of the ‘settling into the new club’ process for keeper Tomas Holy has been a temporary stay in Brampton, followed by a move into his new apartment here in Carlisle [literally this week], which means he’s currently living out of and around a pile of boxes.
But, as you’d expect, he’s taking it all in his rather large stride, with the focus - aside from sorting out the domestic situation - very much on having a good season, individually and as a team.
“I’ve moved into my own place and the process of settling properly has begun,” he confirmed. “I’m living amongst boxes, it’s chaos, a mess, but I’ve got my own place and I couldn’t feel better, to be fair.
“That comes after we were away as a team and living together last week in Scotland, and that was different. The trip was about getting to know each other better and understanding each other.
“We had a psychology session which helped with that, we played cards and did other things, and it was good … but five days was just about enough!
“I’m joking, because without knowing each other on and off the pitch I don’t think you can get anywhere. Everybody is different, and you have to treat everybody in a slightly different way as well, because people have different mentalities.
“As well as you can know some people separately, it’s even better for me and everyone that we’ve now been together. It’s important to know each other.”
“Living out of the boxes, that’s the least thing to worry about,” he added. “I do joke about it, but it’s part of coming to a new club and football life.
“We move from place to place, but I just hope I won’t be doing it again next year again. It is what it is, I don’t mind it, it’s my place now and I’ll soon settle down.”
Another important factor for United’s new stopper is the fact that he was invited in to wear the number one shirt, a responsibility he’s more than happy to carry.
“Everybody has a different psychology and mindset, and a lot of people say that competition is very important,” he explained. “Absolutely, there is no doubt about it.
“But I like to be clear about where I stand. I like to know where my spot is. It’s pretty clear in here that I have a place, and that’s important.
“I am a hard worker, I’ve been that way my entire career, and that’s with or without competition. The situation we’ve got here makes me feel calmer than I felt at Ipswich, for example, because in my opinion it was too much like a rotation, but with no reasons.
“It ended being a bit like, yeah, I’m going to play the next game, but I can’t make any mistakes, because what happens next if I do. That gives you a difficult mindset going into a game, and I can say that doesn’t work for me, at all.
“I like to be clear about what my situation is, and because that’s what I have here I know I can work and play in peace and be completely focused on what I need to do.”
“I’m a person who can’t be distracted by thinking about what happens if I do make a mistake, that always feels wrong for me,” he continued. “It just doesn’t work for me.
“I’m so glad that it is clear for me here because it means I can settle. Now it’s completely up to me and my performances on the pitch to keep it that way.
“If I’m constantly making huge errors or howlers then yeah, my position must be questioned. He might think that we might need to replace me, or something like that, but if that doesn’t happen I can stay completely focused on my performances and be the best I can be.”
Coverage of the first few days of pre-season revealed some hard running sessions for the keepers - something he confirmed was not top of his fun things to do list.
“Simmo said we needed to run to get fit, and that’s fine, you accept that even if you don’t like it,” he told us. “But Paul Gerrard is even worse.
“He’s ruthless, he pushes us hard. He doesn’t speak too much by using words, but he speaks a lot through what he has us doing in his training sessions.
“I am really enjoying working with him. I’ve come from doing pretty much doing the same thing every day, and that’s not how this is. Every single day we do something different and honestly, it’s just so enjoyable.
“It’s the same with the gaffer, he puts on great sessions, and I think we look forward to coming in every morning because of that. It’s hard, of course it is, but it has to be.
“I’ve never liked running though, I have to be honest. Maybe that’s the main reason why I’m a goalkeeper. When I was 12, or something like that, everyone was running more and more, and I was always miles behind.
“I waved at my coach and said - no, not for me, get me back in goals. I’m done. I’m just not built for it. Simmo made us do it and it’s part of it, you just can’t avoid it.
“We need to be fit as well, but then we also need to concentrate on the keeper stuff on top of that. The players who play outfield need more in the way of that fitness, but that doesn’t mean the sessions we do with Gez are easy.
“He pushes us in other ways, making sure we’re up and down and turning sharply, and that is really hard as well, to be fair.”
The good pre-season has increased the positivity levels, with a definite feel-good factor inside and outside the club.
“I agree, I’m feeling that as well,” he said. “And I feel the same from the boys. I felt it when we played Bolton and again against Morecambe.
“It leaves me really looking forward to the season starting. I can’t speak for everybody, but I feel very excited and positive.
“There’s a lot of respect between people in our dressing room and that counts. There are a lot of leaders and people you have to respect, and when I was younger it was the way of things.
“How can I explain it - it was rougher back then, people were rough, but it was good. It doesn’t happen that way nowadays, because we see players when they come into work and walk down the corridor, they have their heads down, eyes down, they don’t say anything.
“There’s no ‘hello, good morning’ nothing like that. Back in the day I was taught to show respect to my seniors, and it happened to me as a lesson to be learned with Tomas Repka.
“When I did something like that, just once mind, I had my ass kicked and it never happened again. They jumped right on me. Tomas would say – stop, who do you think you are? Get out of here, come back in and start again.
“So I walked out of the changing room, turned round, walked back and said – good morning, hello, I apologise. Tomas said right away, was it that hard to do that?
“And no, it really wasn’t. Maybe it made me feel small and they we treating us roughly, but we learned how to be. It helps you to build a positive personality and it teaches you good life lessons.
“I’m very grateful to Tomas that I had this experience and I wish it was the same for younger players now. But I know times change, and things are done differently, but I’m very thankful that it happened to me.”
As we now head into the final few days before the big kick off there seems to be a real sense of things coming together quite nicely.
“Yes, it does feel that way,” he told us. “Against Bolton and Morecambe it seemed like we knew what we were doing.
“Defensively we were compact and solid, and we know we missed chances against Morecambe, but it’s pre-season and we also know that if we’re creating openings like that the goals will come.
“It’s exciting to think we’ll see the same performance on Saturday. I do feel like we know what we’re doing and it’s a great feeling to have.
“I was told that the fans up north are the best in England, so let’s prove it people.”
And having to let him go to training, we ended with the killer question – what does he want from this season?
“I want to be successful. I think I said in my first interview, I didn’t come here to play for mid-table. It’s a little bit unfortunate that I wasn’t part of Port Vale’s promotion, they left me out, and at the age I’m at I don’t want to finish my career without any success.
“I want to win something. Why not do that here with promotion?”
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