Gair Rhydd’s Dan Heard met up with new Cardiff City manager, Paul Trollope, as he and his players gear up for the new Championship football season.
Paul, do you feel fully prepared ahead of the new season kicking off tomorrow?
Yes, we feel ready, we’ve had a very positive pre-season. The players have really embraced how we’ve tried to work with a very different programme, both physically and tactically, and they’ve embraced it really well. I’m also very pleased at how the new staff have gelled together, it’s worked as I hoped it would, and obviously, as all the other ninety two teams are full of optimism and hope, we consider ourselves ready.
Have the players adapted well to any changes you’ve implemented in pre-season?
I think the way we work, it will be an ongoing review, an improvement process that’ll continue throughout the season, but as we stand now, we’re ready. We’ve worked hard, and we’re fully fit, which is important. We’ve probably got three or four who are probably short on match minutes after coming back from long term injuries, or late from internationals, so my selection and choice of when they come in, and how many I put in at once is important.
And that selection will be based around a new formation, involving wing-backs?
The wing-back system is a change, so we start with a 4-3-3 or a 3-5-2, but like any system, if you do it differently, it takes time. Everyone’s got their roles, in and out of possession, and we’ve worked really hard on the processes of how we do things and how we work. The players have embraced it, I think they’ve enjoyed it, and there are a lot of reasons behind my choice for the system. I have to find a way to win, and realistically, I have to find a system that suits the players, suits the squad at our disposal, to get the best out of them.
After the summer Wales had at the Euro’s, is it back down to earth for you and the players now?
We’re all here for the same reason. We want to reproduce that feel-good atmosphere [that the stadium had for Wales games] on a weekly basis, on a daily basis at the training ground, and we really want to give the fans a team they can be proud to support, that’s the aim, I work in a very positive way and I want the team to be positive. We need to have tactical discipline and probably flexibility as well, and after the summer the national team had, I think everyone is still riding on that, and if we can tap into that and use that, then that will be great. Obviously, we’ve got a few members of staff who were out there, which I think is to our benefit, and that feeling will be important to us. I really want the fans and the players to have an interaction and a unity, as we are all here for the same things, we want to succeed and get promotion, and a lot of the teams, probably three quarters of the teams in the Championship are the same, without a ball being kicked yet! I do want us to be ambitious in ourselves and have high expectations, as I think those expectations usually lead to high rate performances.
There are some big teams in the league this year, who’ve spent big already. Is this an extra challenge for you and the team?
Spending big doesn’t always guarantee you success, sometimes it adds pressure, but we can’t be distracted by that, or the other teams and the players and managers they’ve got, as we will come up against that, there are some top, top operators in the Championship, it’s probably the strongest Championship there’s been for years, and it will be tough, we know that, but we want to embrace it, we want to be brave in it, and we’ve focused a lot on it in pre-season, and that will continue into the season, we’re aware of the opposition and their strengths, and we feel if we get our group right, our strength right, our conditioning right, our tactical detail right and our preparation right, so all our processes are right going into games, then we feel we can be confident going into these games, as we feel we have quality, we’ve got a lot of players who have played in the Premier League, and obviously that’s where we looking to get back into.
Did your time within the Wales set-up change the way you coach? What was this summer like?
In the end I think it’s been a real benefit for me, and the expose I got to certain things in the summer, not only in the Wales camp, but in the tournament, in the games, was enlightening, and it afforded me great preparation time for this role. There was a little bit of a crossover, which I was back and forth for, but I thoroughly enjoyed the whole summer, the whole nation did, but now it’s really good to be back, and I’m really pleased how Lennie (Lawrence) and Ryland (Morgans) have gelled with James (Rowberry) and Martyn (Margetson), and things are positive, and that’s how I want it, and hopefully that feel-good factor continues.
There’ve been a few signings so far this summer, will there be any more before the window shuts?
We’re still looking to bring one or two in, we feel we’ve added well, and that includes the business at the start of the summer with Lex Immers and Kenneth Zohore, coming back on a permanent basis, and Frédéric Gounongbe and Jazz Richards we feel are good additions, but we’re still looking for one or two for strength in depth, which is important for the number and level of games, and we’re still hoping to do business before the end of the window. It’s well documented that we’re open to offers for a few, and if the right offer comes in and it suits all parties then we’d be willing to listen, but that doesn’t affect bringing in players.
Finally, have there been any expectations put on you by the owners for this season?
There’s an expectation there, a lot of teams are shooting for the Play-Offs, so it’s going to be some scrap, we know that, and I want us to go into it with our eyes wide open and our chests forward. We’ve got to be brave, we have to embrace the challenge and know what we’re coming up against, and we know it’s going to be tough, with some tough games against some good sides. In terms of the expectation, it’s there, we know that, we know that it’s the Premier League, and whether that’s automatic or through the Play-Offs, so I’m under no illusions of what the job is. At any club, there is pressure, there’s expectation, there’s a lot of focus and a lot of attention, so I’m aware of all those things, I know what comes with the job, and I think it’s something you have to embrace, you have to be brave, and sometimes make tough decisions, but it’s a pressure that for me is a positive pressure, so I’m delighted to be in the role, and, yeah, bring it on!
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