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By Doug Higginbottom, Thu 01 December 2011 14:48
Back at Carrington and the fences are now all the way around (unless you just want to watch the reserves) but so far only the first level so you can see over if prepared for it.20 outfield players on show today and 6 keepers. No Kolarov or Hargreaves who had an extra day off.Jogging and then some specific fitness routines to go through which was all done very close to the fence so I could get a great feel for the attention to the detail from the fitness guys and also the general banter within the whole group. Quite early Mancini called them all onto another pitch and started work with 2 teams. Most of the work he seemed to be doing was with defensive tactics in mind and especially shape and positioning. He would regularly stop the play to assess where everyone was in relation to the ball and the developing attack and then move amongst the players talking and pointing. Situations would build up where an attack was ready to cross the ball but he would stop the ball as he was more concerned (today at least) with how the defending players were set up in case we had to deal with a breakaway.Nothing special maybe but further evidence to me of the meticulous nature of the man. I reckon we have conceded too many goals for his liking. After a while he swapped the teams around so the other defence and midfield got the same treatment. This work lasted a little longer than what I have seen before and when it seemed to be over as most went away he kept all the defenders and did some extra work. Mancini himself was doing most of the work now as he was setting up attacks from the centre circle either spreading the ball wide or often just driving forward to commit the defence and see how they reacted. All interesting stuff and of course wherever he felt they got it wrong he sorted them out.The rest were doing a few fitness routines and doing keep ball circles. Mario and Yaya opted out of the latter just kicking balls around while waiting for others to finish. It looked like a game would be the finale as 2 keepers came across. While they were waiting Joe was practicing overhead kicks to balls played diagonally to him by AJ. Joe's success rate was 0%. As it happened they didnt have a game and just played a pass/move game which didnt require keepers. Nothing special in this although again Mancini was fully involved and occasionally stopped proceedings to show them a few things they were not doing right.And there it suddenly ended.In the time it took me to get a ball back that had come over the fence they had all disappeared. One silly thing today was a new machine to help with crossing the ball.Like a bowling machine for cricketers or at least in principle. A few guys tried to use it but it was a massive flop.The best it could manage was a 10 yard chip with backspin on!As I left there was work going on just to the side of the car park next to the 6 a side astro pitch that exists behind the tall trees. Don't know what it is but the thought crossed my mind it was a machine gun tower for the photographers coming in alongside the fence. Talking of which there was only one there today. Maybe they have decided not to bother already with the high fencing due soon or maybe they are just reds who are still pig sick after last night.