This article was first published on June 26th 2015
Wigan Athletic defender Jason Pearce is busy preparing for another pre-season ahead of another hectic season to come. His team are looking ahead at a whole new league of opposition after being relegated from the Championship at the end of last season.
We spoke to the former captain of Leeds United, Bournemouth, and Portsmouth about what a professional footballer goes through during the off-season, the movement toward a more scientific approach to training, and who’s come back the chubbiest from a summer off!
What goes into pre-season training for a professional footballer?
“Back in the day, when you had the summer ‘off’, a lot of the lads would really have the summer off, and do absolutely nothing and come into pre-season with a bit more weight and body fat on them than the year before.”
“Nowadays it’s different though, most professionals will work hard during the off-season, with maybe only having two or three weeks off, making sure they keep at a good level of fitness to start the following season with. Once you’re back in pre-season, at least you’ve got that base level of fitness already kept, and it’s something to work from for the coming year.”
“Pre-season is very scientific now. You do still have some old school managers that will just make you run, run, and run, but the way football’s going now there’s a lot more science behind the thinking of it all, and it’s all done by the clock, they’ll see what your heart rate is, things like that. The game’s changing in that way, but for the better I think.”
Planning for the year ahead
“We were told before going off for the break this year try not to do too much, because they want to work us hard in pre-season. We’re focusing on lower leg strength, getting them nice and strong, that’s very important for an off-season.”
“The fitness coach and manager will always sit down in the summer and make a fitness plan for the year. In League One there are so many games coming at you thick and fast, so that will provide them with their own test this year. It’ll be interesting to see what they do this year, as we’re looking for promotion this year as one of the biggest clubs in League One.”
Who’s come back from pre-season with the most weight gained?
“Haha, that’s a difficult one to think about really. I wouldn’t like to name names or anything. To be fair, there are a few players like Ross McCormack, who I played with at Leeds, and who’s one of the best players I’ve ever played with. He’s got a chubby build anyway, he’d probably say so himself. He’s quite small but has a thick set.”
“He’d come back after the summer and you’d think he’s a bit chubby alright, but that’s just the way he was anyway and it didn’t matter to him. He might be at the back sometimes in the run in, but give him the ball and it never mattered. Throughout the season he’d just get fitter and fitter, and was always able to produce that bit of magic when we needed it.”
What is the worst part of a professional footballer’s life?
“I think losing games is obviously one of the worst parts of being a footballer. Nobody likes it. But I think being away from your family is the worst. For long away trips we’d go the day before the match, spend the night and then the day of the game there.”
“Pre-season tours can also be difficult for the family. I’d be away for maybe a week or even two, and that’s tough, especially when you’ve got a little baby.”
This article was first published on July 6th 2015.
Jason Pearce made the decision to go from Leeds to Wigan Athletic last January, a move that eventually saw him relegated to League One with his new team. Pearce and the Latics now face a whole new set of challenges as they prepare for life in the third tier of English football, following on from the heartbreak of relegation.
The former Leeds, Bournemouth, and Portsmouth star has opened up to BeanBagSports about this difficult period in his career with a large degree of optimism. However, there was no denying the sinking feeling that relegation brought with it for the defender.
What was the atmosphere like in the Wigan camp the day after relegation was confirmed?
“It was terrible really. We met up the next day after Rotherham beat Reading, which meant we were going down. It was really quiet around the place, everyone was down knowing what happened. Everybody was feeling the same thing.
“We thought we had given ourselves a real fighting chance going into the last few games, but Rotherham did well at the end of the season to keep themselves up and we just couldn’t make it in the end.
“The mood wasn’t good at all, but the manager tried to pick up the spirits straight away. He said; ‘Look, this season’s gone, we’re now going to focus on next year and getting right back up.’
“For the last couple of games, he just wanted to stamp his expectations for the next season in what we were doing. Everything was positive from then on in, and that has me really looking forward to getting back into pre-season and back into the swing of things.”
Pearce made his optimism for the future known way back in April, on the night Wigan’s relegation to League One was confirmed:
What was the significance behind this tweet? Did you have any regrets about leaving Leeds following relegation?
“At Leeds I really enjoyed myself. It’s a massive, massive club that so many players would dream of playing for. The move was about me and my own football career. At the time I wasn’t really playing, for whatever reason. Wigan came in, and even though they were involved in the relegation battle and odds on to go down, I still felt like it was the right move for my career, getting back out on the pitch.
“I’ve no regrets whatsoever about the move. Wigan is a really well-run club, with some great people involved in it. I think we’ve got a bright future ahead of us and that’s something that I hope I can be a part of.
“Like I said back in April, we took one step backwards, going down, but we just need to regroup and build on what we’ve got in order to come back stronger, like Wolves have done in recent years after going down. I’m very optimistic and hope we can do well.”
Taking on the job of managing the team officially ranked as the world’s worst sounds like a challenge you might set yourself on Football Manager, right? Well Paul Watson made it a reality when he made an 8,000 mile journey along with his friend Matt Conrad from London to coach the small, remote island of Pohnpei.
Initially, Watson had intended to go to Pohnpei to play for them, but due to strict citizenship laws on the island that plan was ruled out, but after meetings in London with a former inhabitant of the island, he discovered that he could coach the National side without having to be a citizen.
When the Bristol City fan arrived in Pohnpei, he discovered his job was much harder than anticipated. The national team had dispanded due to embarrassment of being branded as the worst team in the world, there was no league, the obesity rate was ridiculously high and there was little interest in sport which really narrowed the pool of potential players available to him. Read the rest of this entry »
This week sees the first round of the Europa League take place, with Bohemians and St. Patrick’s Athletic in action, with Sligo Rovers beginning their European conquest in the second qualifying round. The Saints oddly were drawn against the same Icelandic opposition as last season, while coincidentally Bohs were also drawn against an Icelandic team. To add to the strangeness of this draw, if Pat’s progress, they’ll play NK Siroki Brijeg, the Bosnian team that Bohemians could have played last season had the Siroki Brijeg beaten Olimpija Ljubljana in the first qualifying round.
Here, we’re going to take a look at the teams that the Irish sides will come up against, and potentially will come up against if Pat’s and Bohs get past their Icelandic counterparts. Robert O’Reardon will examine Shamrock Rovers’ Champions League opposition, Lithuanian league winners FK Ekranas, soon.
UEFA co-efficients place the Icelandic league 8 places behind the League of Ireland. We begin with Kevin Galvin’s dissection of IBV who will play Saint Patrick’s Athletic.
ÍBV Vestmannaeyja, Iceland
Stadium: Hásteinsvöllur (1,500)
Manager: Magnús Gylfason
Colours: White and partially red
This is the second time Íþróttabandalag Vestmannaeyja (or IBV if you don’t want to go to the effort of pronouncing that) have been Pats’ first opponents in the Europa League. The club have been on a bit of drought on the trophy front of late, they haven’t won anything in the eleven a side game since their double winning season in 1998, but managed to capture the Icelandic futsal championships in 2012. In total they have won 3 league titles and 4 Icelandic Cups.
Over the next few months, we at Balls Out in Public hope to bring you a series of interviews with top journalists from the footballing world. It will be similar to our coverage of League of Ireland football where we bring you interviews with players and managers alike.
Our first guest today is Brazilian journalist Fernando Duarte of The Guardian. He is a regular guest on their twice weekly podcast Football Weekly. Fernando is an expert on the Brazilian national team and South American football in general.
He joined Robert O’Reardon to talk about Brazil’s defeat to Argentina in New Jersey last weekend, a review of the Copa Libertadores semi final first legs, Ronaldinho’s controversial move to Atletico Minero and much more including why Lucas Leiva has gone to Brazil to continue his rehabilitation.
You can listen to the interview below or alternatively you can download it from http://soundcloud.com/robbieor/boip-meets-fernando-duarte .
You can also follow Fernando on twitter. His username is @Fernando_Duarte
Last night, Drogheda United made the short trip down the M1 to take on Bohemians at Dalymount Park. Drogheda have been performing above expectations this season, and find themselves level on points with champions Shamrock Rovers in 4th place. They were firm favourites for the game but both sides contested an open 1-1 draw. Ryan McEvoy gave the Gypsies the lead but Alan McNally cancelled out the youngster’s superb strike with a controversial effort of his own not long after.
After the game, BOIP’s very own Robert O’Reardon, with the help of Neville Tumulty, caught up with the former Monaghan manager to ask him his thoughts on the game and of his team’s superb performance in the first round of games this season.
So, Mick, a 1-1 draw for your side tonight, how do you think that panned out?
Well, I would have liked to get three points obviously. I think we started very brightly, but it ended quickly. After 5 or 10 minutes Bohemians came well into the game, retained the ball very well, created a few chances and I think we were very luck to equalise so quick against them to get back into the game because had we have went in (at half time) 1-0 down it would have been an uphill battle in the second half.
It was a fantastic night for Bohemian Football Club as they triumphed 2-1 over a lacklustre Portadown side at Dalymount Park in the First leg of the first round in the Setanta Sports Cup. Two superb goals from birthday boy Danny Corcoran and an early contender for goal of the season from Karl Moore ensured Bohemians take slim lead into the second leg which will be staged at Shamrock Park next Monday.
After the game, Robert O’Reardon caught up with one of Bohs newest recruits John O’Connor and quizzed him on last night’s game and how he is finding life so far at the Big Club.
Robert: First of all, John, we know you didn’t get on [the pitch] tonight but how would you assess tonight’s performance from the boys?
John: I thought it was excellent, I thought the lads gelled very well together and thought the movement was excellent and they combined well to get the goals. Obviously they were two crackers and the second one was pure brilliance.