EDS in Croatia: Day nine
- 18 July 2013 21:58
- Posted by @markbooth_mcfc, photos by @vhaydn_mcfc
My moment of reckoning was finally at hand on the ninth day in Novigrad with City EDS.
Loyal followers of these updates from Croatia will know that I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with goalkeeper coach Dave Felgate (pictured top) and have joked that I could show Ireland youth international stopper Ian Lawlor and England u17s keeper Angus Gunn a thing or two.
Well, dear readers, that joke isn’t funny anymore.
Under the watchful gaze of Patrick Vieira and his coaching staff, I donned the gloves and underwent a gruelling 30 minute stamina session under Felgate alongside the two young number ones.
Delusions that I was in reasonable physical condition going into this ordeal were swiftly shattered as we entered the main section of my detail when the former Bolton man used carrot and stick to demonstrate the standards expected of a Manchester City youth goalkeeper.
Any hopes I had for an easy ride were dismissed as you can witness from the video.
There was a serious point at the heart of this exercise, however, and that was to show just how much dedication, desire and talent is required to play at this level.
Watching a goalkeeper train does no justice to the sheer amount of energy expended through the constant getting up and down, as well as the concentration levels this demands.
Hopefully you'll agree that it's only through showing your average bloke going through these routines that you can fully appreciate what it takes.
I found as the half hour went on I was thinking less and less about the handling or the technique of the save and more about just dragging myself back up again to make the next one.
The fitness levels Gunn and Lawlor possess are staggering, they are athletes, which may not always have been the case with goalkeepers, but the way they push each other on and encourage one another through the hardest of the stamina drills is what really stood out for me and is a huge credit to the club.
And of course to the “Goalkeeper’s Union”.
After Felgate generously inducted me into this sacred fellowship, I drank my ample body weight in water and crawled on hands and knees over to the outfielders to find out what they were getting upto.
Counter-attacking was the order of the day and the players were tasked with playing keep ball in a small box in the centre of the pitch against a couple of defenders before being given starters orders to launch their raids in threes and fours.
Vieira only allowed the players limited time to get their shots away, encouraging decisive passes and an assassin’s steel to take on shots early but with precision.
There were plenty of excellent strikes to enjoy, with this drill really bringing the best out of the squad and, as has been the case all week long, they were looking sharp, no doubt motivated by the opportunity to put themselves in their new manager’s thoughts with the league season now under a month away.
When the session came to an end, I had the cheek to ask Patrick for an honest assessment of my goalkeeping exploits earlier on.
“You want me to be honest, are you sure?”
After a pause and a pursing of the lips that seemed to last an eternity, the World Cup winner delivered his crushing verdict.
“Really, really, really, really… bad.”
Looks like my hopes for an in-club transfer from the content team are over.
Tomorrow there will be no diary because the squad complete their Croatian adventure with a friendly against the youth team of four-time Slovenian champions ND Gorica, hoping to sign off on a tough but enjoyable 10 day trip with a strong showing.