Hyundai A-League Managers and Coaches In the Off-Season
When the players rest and get ready for the next season, the manager's job gets harder
The off-season is a time for players to relax from the constant demands of the modern game and refresh and recharge themselves for the next season.
Time between seasons may be a less pressured time for A-League players, as they have the best part of four months off (apart from the FIFA World Cup players of course) but for managers and coaches it-s full speed ahead and is a time where they really earn their money.
Many famous managers from the English and European leagues have commented over the years about how they prefer the season to the break as it-s a frustrating time with players coming and going and a less structured day to day job.
Central Coast Mariners Assistant Coach Tony Walmsley says it-s a difficult time of year for several reasons.
“Our focus for this time of the year is to make sure the players hit the ground running when the season starts.”
“We concentrate on injury prevention by doing exercises such as cross training, yoga, weights and circuits.”
He also went on to mention the importance of timing the conditioning of the players.
“At Central Coast in May and June, we call it the Pre-hab prorogramme. It-s really to condition our players gradually, to try and get rid of any deficiencies. It-s just so important to do this before the season starts again.”
Away from the fitness and conditioning side of things, is of course the manager-s next main job- signing new players.
Many managers prove their worth in this area; jobs and reputations are lost and gained by the manager-s competence in the transfer market.
One Hyundai A-League manager with a particularly big job this season is Melbourne Heart-s John Van-t Schip.
This year-s newcomers have to assemble an entire squad and although he-s had a head start by bringing in new recruits towards the end of the last campaign, things are really hotting up as August quickly approaches.
“We-ve done a lot of work already, of course it-s hard work for everybody, but it helped to have extra time. We thought about what kind of system we wanted to play and then we tried to fit in the players that we thought are capable of playing in that system”
It-s an unusual job having to create an entire squad from scratch though and now the new Hyundai A-League side-s coach has the same time as the others to get his squad together.
Van-t Schip says he-s glad the kick-off is getting closer now. The Hyundai A-League salary cap also throws another factor into the mix, as managers and clubs try to avoid going over the limit.
“As we get closer it-s much harder. The last piece of the puzzle is hardest, with the wages and how new players fit with the ones there. From now on I have to concentrate on the training as well so they-re ready in August.”
Building a rapport between existing squad members and new ones, including members of staff is also top of the list of priorities. Bringing in talented players who may not fit into the squad could become counter-productive so team building comes into the equation.
“It-s an essential time for team-building at this time of year on top of everything else” says Central Coast assistant Tony Walmsley.
“You have to get it right but that-s what we-re here for and that-s the challenge of our jobs.”
Van-t Schip echoes his Central Coast colleague saying bonding and playing style come hand in hand.
“It-s important to be fit but all new players coming together and different playing systems are all factors. Players coming from abroad have to get used to everything and they all take a lot of energy to prepare.”
“I just can-t wait to get started in August because that-s when you see it all come together and see how well your preparation has been.”
Despite these testing times, all the coaches and managers seem to relish the off-season as it gives them a chance to stamp their mark on the team before the hectic season starts.
Although the matches are where points are won and lost it seems that the off-season is almost as important as it-s where foundations are laid and it-s the start of where the following season is going.
However, there-s still nothing like the season proper and one thing-s for sure, all the coaches, players and fans alike can-t wait for August to come round so they can see all the hard work pay off and see their teams succeed in the new Hyundai A-League.