Mogga Marcus on Pre-Season
Friday, 13th Jul 2001 14:48
Town coach Tony Mowbray and striker Marcus Stewart held a press conference at Portman Road this afternoon on the progress of pre-season. All seems to be going well with few injury problems, Gary Croft's groin the only serious one.
Of Croft Mowbray said: "The injury isn't affecting him but it needs work. There have been one or two of the other lads coming in with the odd tight calf and Jim Magilton was feeling his hamstring this morning."
But these are thought to be nothing more than the expected pre-season niggles that always occur. Both Magilton and Keith Branagan have recovered from their operations earlier this summer and Branagan is with Malcolm Webster and Andy Marshall at the coach's goalkeeping school.
Town have been training at the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook, an arrangement organised by Don Topley, the ex-Essex cricketer who these days teaches at the school. Stewart says it is a good place to train: "Every pre-season is hard work, but it is easier in nice surroundings at Holbrook. Very nice food too!"
Conditions were seen as ideal by both coach and player with the atmosphere good, Stewart: "There were a lot of stories flying about! It's been good to catch up with everyone."
Recently Mowbray said that pre-season had changed a lot since his early days as a professional, Stewart too has noticed differences: "Pre-season changes from club to club. Huddersfield was very different. One year when Peter Jackson and Terry Yorath were in charge within days we were doing eight mile runs. Racing too, not at your own pace!"
Town is not like that with full-time fitness coach Simon Thadani making sure all the activities are less likely to cause injury. Mowbray says this is important: "You need to avoid injuries. If you start the season with a few players out then you could find yourself in trouble. These days everything is done in fine detail."
Stewart himself spent his summer break resting: "I went abroad for a while, but I spend most of the summer resting. I always have, I feel that rest benefits me most."
Of new striking signing Pablo Couñago Mogga said: "Pablo has impressed everyone with his work ethic as much as with his ability. It must be difficult for him. He looks to have very good feet and good awareness of protecting the ball. He looks a tidy and intelligent player."
Stewart said expectations were obviously higher after last season's fifth finish: "We've got to emulate what we did last year. And if that means working harder and having extra training then so be it. There are a lot of honest players at this club."
Stewart thinks he'll be more of a marked man this year, but Tony Mowbray sees Stewart as up there in the same bracket as Alan Shearer as a striker who will score a lot of goals every year come what may: "Chances will come over the season and Marcus wil take them. Defenders will fall asleep or whatever. That's the difference between the top strikers. Marcus has shown he can score at whatever level he's played."
Stewart said he had benefitted from help given to him by the club's sports psychologist Ken Way. He spends time with the team and the players individually and Stewart says he has certainly been helped: "I've really benefitted from him and one thing he showed me in particular. Before a game I go into the toilet on my own and focus not directly in front of me but all around me."
The idea presumably being for him to increase his wider awareness once he is on the field.
On the subject of players coming in Mowbray re-iterated David Sheepshanks' statement that signings are likely soon: "We're trying very, very hard. We're after the right type of player at the right price. I'm confident players will come in before the new season, or if not as the new season starts."
Questioned about the multi-millions spent by Manchester United on one player, Mowbray said that everyone at the club is keen to compete against stars of that magnitude: "Our challenge is to compete against sides with hundreds of millions of pounds."
Stewart felt that Manchester United would find the Premiership harder this season with Arsenal, Liverpool and Leeds pushing them closer than in recent years.
Mowbray admitted to knowing little about Tommy Miller saying that "George could probably tell you more."
The issue of James Scowcroft leaving the club was also brought up, although Mowbray admitted he is not directly involved in transfer matters. He expects Scowcroft to stay: "I don't think there is any chance that he's going to leave. You expect speculation with good players."
He added that he was sure that clubs asked about players from other clubs constantly and that if a club says no that should mean no, perhaps suggesting that Leicester may have made a second bid. He sees Scowcroft as a very useful player: "He scored goals from midfield for us last year. And when sides sit back against us as some did last season he provides us with a useful outlet."
Town go on their annual tour of Scandinavia next week, a trip which Mowbray thinks is always useful: "We're playing against sides which play a similar style of football to English teams, it's not like going off to South America. The games are not really taxing but give us a good workout. The season has started out there and that is good as their fitness makes the games a little bit more even. If they were in pre-season they would be very one-sided games."
All seems to be going well so far, let's hope all continues in this direction.
Photo: Action Images
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