On the Sidelines with Rini Coolen

We have a chat to the Reds’ head coach Rini Coolen to get his thoughts on pre-season, his recruitment so far, and his plans for the team until the start of the Hyundai A-League which kicks off in October.

We have a chat to the Reds- head coach Rini Coolen to get his thoughts on pre-season, his recruitment so far, and his plans for the team until the start of the Hyundai A-League which kicks off in October.

How are you coping with the long off-season?

The pre-season is a long period of more than 4 months before the first game against Perth. Because of this we created a pre-season schedule of 3 blocks. The first is an 8 week block, with a lot of sessions during the week but giving the players some free days on the weekends. We used this 8 week block to get everybody into a basic physical condition, and work on the players that are coming back from injuries. After this 8 week period, we had 1 week off, and we now have 2 blocks of 6 weeks, that will bring us to the first game of the competition.

We are 3 weeks into the 2nd block. Now we are playing some training matches every Tuesday, to work on shape and starting formations. We have also had some more new players join us such as Bruce Djite, Dario Vidosic, Jon McKain, as well as Evgeniy Levchenko along with Zenon Caravella and Spase Dilevski who were with us from the start of the pre-season. We are still looking for 1 or 2 players to bring in so that we can use that block to work on shape and make that next step physically. So hopefully at the end of this 6 week block, everyone is available. We still have at least 2 players that still need more time after coming back from big injuries, like Fabian Barbiero and Nigel Boogaard.

When we finish this 6 week block we will again have a couple of days off, and then we will continue with the final 6 week block that will bring us to the start of the competition, and that should be the last serious block to prepare ourselves with games against A-league clubs. We have at least 3 games against clubs from that level.

So that-s how we will build up the 4 months pre-season. It gives me a very good opportunity to have some good contact with players, fit in new players, and work on the shape. Even knowing that it-s a long way to the start of the season, it-s also positive that we have a long time to work with the new players, a new shape, but also a new philosophy, and changing the culture. We need time for that. At the moment, we are exactly where we want to be. We are making steps at the right moment, and I am really looking forward to the last 6 week block because that block is where things will get serious, and that-s the block that we will need to be ready for the start of the season.

At this stage of pre-season, are the players at the level of fitness that you had planned?

They are exactly where they have to be. But the only thing is, we have to bring them all to the same level. There are still a couple of players coming back from injury; we need to make them fit. There are some new players coming from overseas that we need to fit in. We have to bring them to the same level of fitness, especially when we start the last block. We want to bring the standard of the players to a high level to make the next step together. And we need to keep them fit. One of the main things now is to look for a balance between hard work and rest. The rest is just as important as the work loads. One of the most important things is to keep them fit. If you lose a player during the pre-season that brings them back a lot of steps. At the moment we are doing well.

What sort of things were you looking for when you were recruiting players?

It is always important to look for the right balance of the team. You have to look for good defenders, good midfielders, good strikers. But also for left footers, right footers. Strong headers of the ball, goal scorers. If you look at the balance now I think we are doing well. We brought some experienced players in. Some balance between young players and older players, some left footers, some defenders. I think we have done well to bring the balance back, not only in quality, but also in experience, and what fits in the formation. We have brought in quality, experience and a good mentality. A lot of our players are used to playing overseas, and they know what it means to have competition between players.

There are 2 spots left. Are you looking for any specific positions?

We still have 2 spots available. We are looking for a left footed central defender, and maybe we are looking for an extra attacker. One of these positions could be coming from one of the local clubs.