It was the Friday morning, two days after we played Airdrie, that Leeann asked me to take charge of training and match preparation, along with Gardner Speirs and Glen Johnson.
We then sat with Gardner and Glen and the four of us discussed how we could take things forward, until such times as a new manager was appointed.
This certainly came as a surprise to me, as, up to that moment, my main focus was getting back to full fitness, after being out injured. But at the same time, I know situations like this happen in football. So, it was an easy decision to agree to help.
My main aim will be to try and prepare the players, as best I can, along with Gardner and Glen, for the upcoming games.
I’ve met Gardner before, at Lesser Hampden, but due to COVID restrictions, not had the opportunity to sit with him and talk football. I know he’s got a fantastic wealth of experience and he’s managed the club before. He’ll play a massive part both on the training pitch and in match days.
Glen also has a great deal of experience of coaching in the UK as well as abroad. The three of us will be doing the best we can to prepare the boys for the upcoming games.
REACTION FROM THE PLAYERS:
I could not have had a better response from the players. Both their commitment and attitude in training has been fantastic. That’s what’s great about this group – my teammates – we are a tight knit group. They know it’s a unique situation for me as well as them. It’s also a situation most of them have never experienced, having a teammate, as young as I am, in place to help with the coaching and team selection.
What’s also good is that, despite being ‘in charge’, I’m still the subject of banter by the players. I’m ok with that because these light-hearted moments show the mood in the camp is good.
GETTING READY FOR THE PETERHEAD GAME:
Along with input from Sam and Euan, we think we’ve got a really good programme up and running. I must say the amount of support we are getting from all staff and players is great.
I’m still fully participating in the training sessions. I’m close to being ready for matches and I don’t want that to slip. I can also provide feedback and options to the group during the sessions.
Now it’s about how quickly we can prepare for Saturday’s game against Peterhead.
Training has been good this week. We’ve been on the training pitch every day. We’ve had most of the players available. Their intensity and attitude has been excellent. The boys have bought into our sessions and tried to implement what we are looking for, so things are looking good.
We had a couple of postponements recently, so all the players are itching to get out and play. Our main focus is to get a good result on Saturday and if we get a good performance that’s a bonus.
We’ve re-iterated to the players that the main focus should be on our performance. We need to play with positivity and confidence and take the game to the opposition. We have the players who are capable of playing at high levels. We just need to ensure, as a team, we play to these high levels.
With Covid being what it is at the moment, I’m sure you can understand it’s a fluid situation and will continue to be for a while yet. So, although we will talk about who we see playing in games as the week progresses, the final decisions will be Friday or even Saturday.
What’s great is we are all on the same page, pulling in the same direction. That’s the way I wanted it to be so I’m happy. This is a set of circumstances we’ve not experienced before, so it’s good that the three of us are there to share and support each other. The main thing is that the players are comfortable going into the training sessions, get something out of them that best prepares them for the Saturday’s game.
THOUGHTS ON BECOMING A COACH:
Although I hope I still have many years to play football, becoming a coach one day has been in the back of my mind. Growing up in a footballing family, I’ve had many discussions with my dad and brother, round the kitchen table, about tactics and team selections. In that environment you naturally start to develop an understanding about the game and what skills you need to become a coach.
When I started out as a professional with Peterborough, part of the scholarship was getting my first coaching badge – UEFA C licence. But since then, I’ve focussed on the playing side.
This time of stepping up to coach the first team, no matter how short it is, will be such a valuable experience for me and I’m going to take as much as I can from it. It’s certainly something to put in my CV when the time comes to hang up the boots.