MCFC training report 07/02/2012
By Doug Higginbottom, Tue 07 February 2012 18:20
Better late than never but the training was at 3pm today in the freezing cold. Vinnie not back to full training yet and also Dzeko and Pizarro not back from wherever due to flight delays. Plenty of young guns involved though with Roman, Suarez (back already from the Spain under 18's) Helan, Scapuzzi, Assulin, Rekik and Razak. Owen Hargreaves was out but working separately.
Straight into two teams and they just worked on passing as a team and exploding into action on the whistle. Then it changed into a 2 touch passing game in a smallish area, then 1 touch and it was all very quick stuff. Pretty non stop stuff, the movement excellent and plenty of tackles going in as well. I was worried a little with a block on Mario as he tried a left foot volley but he was fine, Nigel took Suarez in one tackle and Assulin got 2 or 3 knocks but got up for more. I have seen this exercise plenty of times but this seemed as fast as I can recall and some of the play was real quality.
Then into some exercises involving running before the game started. While the exercises were going on I watched the keepers for a while as they were doing some work on crosses with other keepers having the job of challenging as the ball came in. Quite a challenge if Costel is coming in at you but they were doing it without too much real contact. They also took the chance to try and score if the cross wasn't near the keeper and Costel scored a beauty in off the near post and celebrated bigtime with Joe (Stu was in goal) and right at the end Joe glanced one in nicely and did his own special celebration. One of the keepers who went in a bit earlier was Angus Gunn. I am sure he has grown a lot (more to come probably as he is just 16 I think) and looked good today and got very positive comments when I spoke with Stu as he went off.
So into the game and it started off with a really big dispute as a goal was scored but then belatedly disallowed as off side despite Nigel arguing loudly. Louder than most though but there were plenty having a go. Just like the previous 1 and 2 touch sessions this game was also high intensity with plenty of stong play. Assulin was first to feel that as he was clobbered and the most obvious thing to the watcher like me was how much it all seemed to mean to the players. There really was no quarter given.
Bear in mind also it was 11 a side in half a pitch and that with the width narrowed as well. Some great defending tok the eye early on with Joleon and then Joe Hart excelling. Joe's save from a Savic header was top class. Suarez today was playing centrally and deepish and looking good early on. Then it was Costel's turn for a great save with his feet from Roman but the pass from Silva to release Roman was exquisite. Nearly a collectors item next when Silva headed onto the bar before it went down the other end and Sergio scored with a sweet finish. Not just the finish though as in these early stages he was just superb. His touch, control, awareness were a joy to watch.
Then a close call as Assulin shot over from a great pull back cross. Looked like he should have scored but the ball was just behind him making it difficult to keep down. Barry also missed a chance and then a scary moment. Well it was for me and I was only watching. The ball was across the edge of the area and Kolarov was moving in for a pile driver and I could see Micah coming in for the block. AK caught it perfectly and Micah's ample arse did the blocking! I felt it but Micah didn't seem to bother as the ball rebounded about 50 yards!
Scapuzzi was through but chose to pass when he should have shot but to be fair the sight of Joe charging at him might well have made his mind up. He is a real presence. Then another quality save fron Costel denied Assulin. Silva found a great pass for Mario to take one touch under real pressure and get a shot just wide. Aguero denied by Joe in a one to one. He went for the chip and Joe came at him but Joe got a hand up to deflect it. And then the equaliser and as so often it was GazBaz. Cool finish just inside the post as he broke through with a late run.
The challenges were coming thick and fast. Nigel and Razak were having a fair old tussle in the middle. Then a weird moment as a cross came over and Kolarov(defending) came across to the middle to meet the ball but deflected it in slow motion (seemed it anyway) past Costel and onto a post. Silva hit the rebound but Costel parried it to safety. All this and it was starting to go dark. The last action was Mario taking a touch,flicking over the defender and hitting a shot just over. So 1.1 it stayed and it was really enjoyable as you might have guessed.
Most went in but Mancini had a few players practicing corner taking with the sole aim (I think) of landing the ball in a small area which meant beating the front man. AJ, AK, MB,J M. As I left the groundsman was quickly trying to clear the pitch as he had to cut it before he could go home!