Lovely sunny day for me to double up with training and then a dash to watch the under 21′s v Palace. A full 20 out today with Zaba back but missing Boyata and lopes who I expect will play this afternoon. RM got them all together for a longish chat before they started the initial jogs and warm up exercises. Still a buzz around the group as yesterday as the physio shouted them through stretches on groins and “hammies”
RM took a team away for some work but it was just a very short session with what might be the team for tomorrow before they all came back for a passing “game” with chances to score in either small nets,one touch finish,or big nets with a header. Gael scored in the small nets and Samir replied with a headed equaliser! Golden goal was called which Carlos got with another header but they carried on and Sinclair scored in the small nets.That was followed by a very short sharp exercise before the end game started.
It was 11 a side on just over half a full sized pitch but one player didn’t play (no names) allowing Richard Wright to play out of goal. And he tested Joe with a right footer into the top corner which he turned over. Sinclair was looking good but the final ball just wasn’t quite right, Maicon also showing the quality he has on the ball going forward but he will always struggle if left isolated in defence. Great to see Pablo back although one or two attackers wouldn’t have thought so as he tackled them.
The first goal came from a Kolarov pass which Nasri smashed in and quickly followed by a Barry goal as he timed a run perfectly to tap in. There was a bizarre own goal too with a header meant for his keeper but I won’t mention names to so I don’t embarrass them. Maybe it will be on Inside City! That was about it as they finished leaving just a few out for extras.
Sinclair, Kolarov and Milner for shooting practice although it looked like Joe wanted to shoot as well. Maicon and Micah for some extra fitness work with Gael watching on.I think I saw Rodders going for some running but not sure. Just enough time to type this and now off to the Regional Arena for the 21′s game. It’s a hard life.
Not exactly warm today but the undersoil heating did it’s job and there were two pitches available to use. Firstly congratulations to whoever for finally sorting the netting out to stop photographers getting easy pictures on the 2 pitches nearest the changing rooms. There have been gaps for ever which have been shut off at least (shame they can still get longer distance ones from the swamp side).
The best news though was seeing Aguero in full training and with Rodwell alongside him. No Maicon yet although he was out running when I arrived. As the 20 players congregated it was noticeable one player was in shorts. No prizes for guessing and he only had short socks as well! When they got closer one of the young ones was in shorts as well but at least he had long socks. Boyata and Suarez were there at the start again and Lopes came over later for the final game.
Nothing special in the warm ups as they broke into two groups but after a the initial stuff most carried on doing exercise routines while the 2 strikers worked separately with Mancini. Looked like he was focusing on working off each other. Then it was into a game situation as 2 keepers came over, Lawlor and Wright on this occasion. I don’t think any goals were scored in what was a very short 5 minute game but I had to break off to throw balls back which had come over from the keeper session.
So after the 5 minute game most came over for more exercise routines while Mancini again took the strikers plus 2 midfield players for more special work on their interplay. Then back again for a 5 minute game where Edin hit the post with a low cross shot and Barry tapped in after a Garcia shot had been saved. 5 minutes was up and back for more exercises and Mancini working with the strikers plus 2 other midfield players.
Another goal and this time a top team goal with Carlos ultimately feeding Edin for an easy finish. From behind a curtain it’s not easy to see every detail but Kun looked ok and took one heavy challenge with no problems. I couldn’t say if he is ready for Saturday and will wait to see what RM says in the pre match press conference. Rodders also looked fine but I am sure he will need more training sessions before he gets back into games.
Drinks then followed by another match of sorts and that’s where Lopes came to make up numbers as Kun rested. Mancini took a long time talking to the teams before this started as he was clearly looking for specific things in the “game” and on a few occasions he did stop play to talk more. He remains a meticulous coach who knows what he wants and this game was not just about a free for all.
Mario nicked a ball from a defender to score by taking the ball past the keeper and I think that was the only goal but there was plenty of good play and passing. A good session in the freezing conditions, everyone in top spirits on Zaba’s birthday.
I arrived late-ish to find one player already out and that was Bossaerts soon to be joined by Milner and the rest and the further good news was that Vinnie was included in the rest. 18 on show today and it also included Pozo which was good to see.Injuries preventing Micah, Nasri, Aleks, Rodders and Maicon although the latter was out running a little later.
Gentle stuff to start as they jogged about while the keepers were going through their early stuff with the aid of crash mats to dive on. Whimps! As they split into 2 groups the main noticeable thing to me was Silva working side by side with Pozo. Then they broke into 3 groups for some running work so I went round the other side to check on the reserves and was pleased to see Guidetti in full training.
When the football work started it was all about passing and pressing but Vinnie stayed out of this and just carried on 1 to 1 work. Just 4 v 4 in a small area for starters and then a game using the small nets. I think it was a goal if 10 passes were completed or if one was actually scored. Pozo got the ball rolling with 2 goals but the best part was the speed of the game itself. Further goals from Barry, Kolo, Carlos, Edin and finally Sergio.
Then a break where Mancini took the key attacking players away for some specific work, showing them specific movements before they had chances running onto through balls and then from a cross. The midfield were working with Platt on attacking play and getting attempts on goal while Gregucci was putting the defensive unit through it’s paces. All quite strong work all going on at the same time. Panti had gone in during this part so Ian Lawlor came over to give Joe some help. Good for Ian.
Then it was game time and Nimley was called over to make it 9 a side as Milner was not allowed to join in. I bet he wanted to but a little extra caution prevailed and he just went to another pitch for more work. The first goal was from Garcia and a nice left foot half volley well controlled from a Sinclair pass. Sinclair made it 2 tapping in a great Kolo cross, Sergio hit the post and then was given offside in setting Carlos up. Very contentious that one with Kidd getting the stare and more. Then an interception at the other end which was deemed a backpass got Kidd involved again.
Yaya went for a long throw in and his feet went about as high as he threw the ball,very comical. Wright made a bunch of very good saves. Then Silva got one back from an Edin pass before Kun and Carlos got one each with excellent cross shots and then Sinclair got his 2nd after an amazing Yaya assist. YT had received the ball with at least 3 around him but with amazing control and touch plus a slice of luck he managed to get the ball back for SS to score.
That was that but as they were going off I heard Joe call for Zaba to chip him a pass so he could volley it into the net.Zaba laughed and offered £100 if he scored. Joe missed:) All in all a good lively and varied session with no wind and no rain so job’s a good un.
Nice crisp day at Carrington with 19 players on show. Missing were Vinnie and Milner but good to see Rodders again plus Kolarov back but Nasri also missing. Maybe nursing the pulled muscle from trying to stop that free kick! Scapuzzi and Razak making up the squad today.
It was a case of extra clothing for most of them and extra warm up, running routines to try to ensure no silly pulled muscles or other injuries. Mario with what looked like a big blue and white tea cosy on his bonce was the stand out but quite a few snoods as well. Just 2 in shorts trying to be brave. Even though they were on undersoil heated pitches there was a touch of frost lying on the top.
Mancini’s first real work today was with the full defensive set up and it was quite a long detailed session on tactical formation work as a unit. The others played in a large keep ball session with 5 or 6 on the outer plus 2 in the middle to pass with and the other 4 or 5 working hard to win the ball back and pressing hard as a unit. Looked like the pressing aspect was the key focus in this and no surprises to find Carlos leading the way in closing down players.
It all switched round so that Mancini took the attacking players next as a group and had a lengthy spell with them clearly at times showing them the runs he was looking for as well as the angles for passes. Very much a day for technical, tactical work and while each group was being worked on the rest kept going with exercises .It was seriously not a day to just hang about. Milner had come out after a while and worked closely with Ivan on all sorts of exercises. Clearly not 100% over his problem yet but he seemed to be running,stopping,starting,turning pretty well to me. No idea if he will be ready for weekend. The word on Vinnie is that it’s not too bad but nobody was making any commitments on a return date.
And so into a match at the end but not the sort the sessions normally end with. For a start Mario was being worked on one to one with one of the coaches and in the game it was 7 v 9. The 7 being a defensive unit of 6 plus Carlos as the release ball against almost a full team. A really tough ask for the defending team but they did very well and from them Kolo was excellent and got my man of the session vote. Top pro and a very good defender. The only goal was from a Silva pass (cut back) for Barry to sidefoot into the far corner.
3rd day in a row and still Friday to come. I arrived to hear Brain Kidd trying to teach Gregucci some english slang. Quite funny with Fausto joining in. As they all gathered Maicon was out doing some jogging (first time outside I think) and also Rodders out again. A very happy sounding bunch all gathered for the usual pre training briefing from the boss but a little extended and different today as he took players from the group and positioned them in formation leaving the rest around the center circle. Then a brief kick around in pairs. Nearest to me were Kun and Carlos, one using only his left foot and the other only playing volleys.
From there Mancini spent time talking with the whole group and I guess it was all about tactical aspects of the formation, can’t really hear from 100 yards! It was a slightly different start and followed by a keep ball session but just the one around the center circle with 3 in the middle. There were 17 on show today plus 4 keepers. Zaba was clattered once but typically just got up smiling but the work on the first touch and controlled short passing was the emphasis.
Then Mancini took a team away to do preparation work for the weekend game and brought the 2 keepers over. Joe to go in nets and Panti to play up front against our defenders!! Can’t think why :) The rest of the group stayed near me to distract me from what was going on and they did a good job too as they were having plenty of fun. Mancini was clearly well prepared for today as part of the preparation and if he was serious after the Ajax game about not preparing well enough he wasn’t going to do the same again here.
This session was a longer one than usual with Mancini being very meticulous as ever and spending time player by player about their duties at corners and free kicks and using Panti and a bunch of coaches as the opposition making runs. Fun to watch Massive in an attacking role! Once he had gone through all his work with the team he changed the personnel and went through it all again.
The keep ball circle with those not in the Mancini work at the time kept going on to keep me entertained. Barry nutmegged twice in one routine brought the house down. Kolarov taking over the counting of how many passes there were and interestingly missing plenty of numbers out along the way, Sinclair counting in Spanish, Garcia playing with a constant smile as basically they all were. Zaba really does come across as a team favourite and we already know he is a fans fave.
No game at the end today and overall not much on the physical or running side today. That was done in the previous 2 days and all the emphasis today and maybe tomorrow on the next match. Here’s hoping it all pays dividends.