We spoke to first-team coach Steve Clarke this week and asked him for an insight into his daily work, what Kevin Keen has added to the club and who stays late after training...
First of all, Steve, talk us through a typical day for you and Kevin Keen and the other senior coaching staff?
We normally get in here about 8.30am, which is two hours before the players come in. I'll have half an idea in my head, or sometimes a full idea, of what we're going to do. If it's half an idea, we'll sit and discuss with Kevin how we can organise the session. We sit and chat for maybe 45 minutes, bedding down the session. Then the medical staff will come in and waste the whole thing by saying we don't have this player or that player! You have to adapt it, then we talk with Kenny, explain the session and ask him if there's anything he'd like to see in it. Then we work with the players.
How does a session normally go?
The breakdown changes from day to day but on a typical day you're looking at 20 minutes to warm the players up, then we'll do another 20 minutes more technical - maybe a passing drill or finishing. Different bits. Then we have the possession element. That can be an open possession, just working on the touch or ability to control the ball in tight areas, then at different stages of the week you shape together a formation you think might be useful at the weekend. Then normally at the end of every session we'll have a game with the goalkeepers.
Are you monitoring how much the players work in training?
I don't monitor them - I monitor them with my eyes. What we have is a fantastic back-up team who have the heart-rate monitors, the Pro-zone, the fitness stats. Kenny, Kevin and myself are quite old fashioned in that we look at it with our eyes, and it's nice if they come in after and show us the data and it ties in with what we thought.
You hear the players talking about how much they enjoy training - that must be pleasing to you?
Yes. That's part of our job. The one thing to remember is they can be happy with their training but they have to understand there are times when you have to work and bed down philosophies. It can't always be enjoyable. Training is all about preparing for the next match. If they're enjoying how we work then great because if anyone's happy in their work they are always going to give a bit more.
What kind of bunch do we have here? Are they good trainers? Are they wanting to stay behind afterwards?
The biggest problem we have sometimes is getting them to come off the training pitch. There are always five or six - different people on different days - who you're having to go up to and say 'We've done a really hard session and we need you to go in and rest.' Sometimes they have to realise that the rest period is also a very important part of training.
I know you don't like picking out individuals but who is the best, or worst if you like, for staying behind?
I can't pick out individuals but to be fair to Jordan (Henderson) since he came here, he's always hanging around with a ball at his feet. He wants to do some crosses or shooting. He's not alone in that, though.
Kevin Keen arrived as a coach in the summer. What kind of character is he and what's he added?
I knew Kevin from my time at West Ham, we worked together there. He's very level-headed, he's calm, and his philosophy on football is similar to mine and Kenny's. He fits in well and the players respect him - he has a good manner about him. I feel he's been a good addition to the staff.
What is that philosophy you share?
The philosophy is to pass the ball. To pass the ball, to move and find different positions, and also to work hard as a team. It's not something that's unique to us as a management group. A lot of people have it but there's a way to put it across and at the moment we seem to be doing a decent job - hopefully we can continue that into the future.