From listening to Paul Lambert’s interviews and comments regarding City’s early pre-season outings I got one overriding impression. That phase one of pre-season is over, and phase two begins now.
Even the most casual of city fan will be aware of Lambert’s media shyness, but on a pre-season tour where fitness is the primary objective. The boss would be delighted if he was spared interviews, if he didn’t have to explain the choice of opposition, and if he didn’t have to falsify reasons why we should get excited about a 19-0 aggregate tour score. As hungry as fans are for action, the tour wasn’t about wins and losses. It was about bettering the already brilliant fitness levels which have been at the heart of city’s double promotion.
The boys are back at Colney, there are a few knocks but nothing that seems to be causing any serious stress, precaution at worst seems to be the party line. If you want to panic I suppose you can, Adam Drury seems to bruise like a peach these days, whilst James Vaughan, swelling and knee being in the same sentence may be enough for some people to question his durability. The tour had to be intensive, with double sessions each day. If the worst we have is knocks then I for one am not worried.
So now the fitness and sharpness are done we have three away trips this week.CrystalPalacetonight at Selhurst. Southend on Thursday, and a return to the Ricoh on Saturday to take onCoventry. Then next week we’re back to fortress Carrow Road for the glamour ties against Zaragoza andParma, either side of a City XI game against Billericay Town.
I imagine Paul Lambert will be hoping to see some of the class he has bought and nurtured come to fruition in this week’s game. Palace andCoventrytook five points from us last season; it will be easy to be how far we have come since the end of last season, easy for Lambert to judge who has kicked on to that all important next level.
Then come the Carrow Road games against established top level European sides, however they choose to populate their squads they will provide a test. What I envisage they will bring to our preparation is a test of professionalism. If Parma and Zaragoza’s forwards dart into the box before throwing themselves over Ward and Whitbread’s out-stretched legs I think Lambert will be more than happy. This kind of top level gamesmanship and trickery is perhaps what has been missing from City’s new season preparation. John Ruddy needs to know how to dive at Javier Hernandez’s feet without giving him the opportunity to gain a penalty, and avoid getting himself suspended for the next game.
If we get through all these games and we have competed and caused the opposition problems then we are ready for the trip toWigan, and as well we might be, there’s only 19 days to go until it all begins again.
Anyone going to Palace or Southend, if you fancy writing a report please get in touch. @LeeCoolahan gained 1,000 hits for his Gorleston report, that could be you!