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Interviews

😄 "I sense that there is a buzz about the place, a bit of excitement"

Royals boss Mark Bowen on the training ground mood and the methods in place to bring football back into action...

29 May 2020

Back on the training pitch, once again stood in front of a club camera for the first time since we discussed what was due to be a routine home match against Stoke City back in mid-March...Royals boss Mark Bowen was back doing what he loves, and it showed.

"It seems an eternity since we were last speaking after training, preparing for Stoke I think a couple of months ago. A lot of stuff has happened in between," he told us, albeit from a good 2m distance away.

"But I sense that there’s light at the end of the tunnel," the Roayls boss continued. "Protocols are in place, the Premier League are pushing ahead with things, and the EFL is not far behind – if at all.

"We’re trying to put the right structures in place for the players, trying to keep it different in the way that the players prepare every day. Things are changing...one minute we had single players working alone under supervision and now we’re getting back into groups of four or five. And hopefully soon we’ll be back into 11 v 11 situations. 

"I just hope it continues, although always with an eye on the virus itself and how people are adapting to that. But we are more and more hopeful of the season recommencing, and getting back to what these guys do best." 

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Training without contact and in small groups of players has called on some creative coaching. "It has been about trying to keep players engaged – getting variety for them. They’re all having to put up with different scenarios in their training.

"Thankfully, Eddie 
Niedzwiecki has been coaching for well past 30 years and he has his own little bible of drills which we’re constantly referring to. Keeping it different is important – making sure they don’t get into a stale mentality. 

"Some players have come in individually over the past two or three weeks when we offered them a chance to come into a safe environment, if they couldn’t do their plans at home or in the local park. 

"This week it has kicked on into groups of four or five. No contact, and as coaches, that gives you a problem when it comes to creating variety. But it’s nice to see a back four working together – going through the routines that they’re well accustomed to, but haven’t done for months. 

"We’ve made sure the groups are right – strikers, midfielders, defenders working together. This week has gone quick.

"They’ve worked hard; we aren’t just going straight into ball-work, we are also making them work hard as well to keep fitness levels up to keep on progressing.

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"I can only speak for my group, but the way that the players have come back with a real edge. I sense that there is a buzz about the place. They’ve been sat at home for far too long, and now there’s a bit of excitement.

"There’s always lots of questions from the players, some that I can answer and some that I can’t. They want to know when things are going to progress, when we’re going to get playing again, which is still the big question out there. 

"But what I’ve seen out there, is that they have an aptitude for hard work, they are excited about the prospect of getting back to playing again, and that’s the key thing for us. 

"I said right from the beginning: football is the national game, and it can help to heal the nation a little bit. When we get some kind of normality back to our lives, when people can go back to work, if we can give them some sort of release by playing games again, and having supporters watching our games on the television, then that’s got to be an added bonus."


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