International break will have been relaxing for some Championship players, tiring for others but for Swansea City's Ashley Williams it was a week he will never, ever forget. First he plays a key role in his side's thrilling derby victory over Cardiff City, then he's named Wales Footballer of the Year and if that wasn't enough he then captains his country to a magnificent 3-0 win over Scotland. It doesn't get much better than that!
I don't know Ashley personally but I've been very impressed with his performances this term. He's leading a strong back line down at the Liberty Stadium and I'm sure his displays won't have gone unnoticed. He's got the class to play at a higher level and for me he's a Premier League player in the making. Paolo Sousa will be hoping he makes it there with the Swans of course.
I mentioned that the international week will have been contrasting for many footballers and I say that from personal experience. Often I was away with the Republic of Ireland but when I did stay at my club, the programme laid out for us would very much depend on where we sat in the league. If you were flying, you could expect the weekend off, plus one or two extra days in the week. If times were bad, days off aren't really on the agenda. It's often a time for plenty of extra hard work on the training field to put things right.
As a player I found the change in routine a welcome one. Providing you're not one of those teams in the midst of a relegation battle it's a time to relax and enjoy your work a little more, without the pressure of pre-match preparation. You'll do more five-a-sides, have a social day out as a team or spend more time in the gym perhaps. It's just a bit different.
Ian, a Bluebirds fan wrote in last week asking what a typical working day would be for footballers - and what I say to you Ian is that it varies greatly at different times of the year. In pre-season for example you'd expect to be at the training ground from 9am until 4pm most days. In contrast, towards the end of the campaign when tired legs set in, training sessions won't last longer than 90 minutes on most days.
A typical week for a Championship player throughout the season would be to arrive for training at 9.30am to prepare and go through some warm-up exercises, and then take part in a proper training session from 10.30am until 12.30pm. For some players this may be the end of their working day but many footballers stay on and do extra work with the balls or in the gym. You often find that Tuesdays will see an afternoon session arranged for everyone by the manager too, as Wednesday is regularly a day off. Fridays in contrast are pretty light, with sessions lasting little over an hour or so.
This would be a typical pattern for every professional footballer in the country from the Premier League down to League 2. Of course, the commitment doesn't stop there though, as footballers are required to do work in the local community with schools, hospitals and various events too. This is shared on a rota basis normally so that everyone gets their fair share of work! Hope that helps Ian...
Finally, I'd like to wish Mark Cooper the best of luck in his new role as Manager of Peterborough United.
Mark's proven himself at non-league level so I'm not shocked at all that he's been given this opportunity. It seemed to me that the club was keen to acquire a young, talented, hungry boss as one of my good pals Eddie Howe at Bournemouth was also on their short list. Mark Cooper certainly has all the attributes required.
Mark's managerial methods won't need to change, even though it's a big step up. His ideas, methods and plans shouldn't alter just because he's in the Championship now. Yes, he's working with better players now but if he sticks to what he knows best and uses the plans he had in place at Kettering I don't see any reason why he can't keep Posh in the league.
Good luck Mark!
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