Derry | 'We're focusing on the job in hand – a new season'

Shaun Derry says he found pre-season training camps valuable during his playing days, and now he’s first-team coach at Wolves, their significance is still not lost on him.

Derry was speaking from Wolves’ pre-season training camp in Marbella, where Old Gold staff have a testing training seclude for Gary O’Neil’s squad, who end the trip with a behind-closed-doors friendly. A former player himself with the likes of Leeds United and QPR, Derry is able to reflect on how pre-season has changed in recent years and the positive frame of mind of the squad during the early stages of the summer schedule.

On beginning a new pre-season

“It’s been good. We were back at Compton for three or four days, and the early signs are that all of them, as they do in the modern day, have come back with good fitness. It’s very different to what it was maybe even ten, 15 years ago. There’s off season programmes now which all the players keep to it and, as everybody knows, we’ve had a number of players playing international football.

“It’s the camp [in Marbella], it’s the weather, it’s an opportunity to bring the squad together and build relationships once again. This is a wonderful place to come, not too far away from the UK, so you haven’t got a problem of sitting on the plane for too many hours, and this is a football pedigree hotel and facility, so the pitches are good. Where we are, they’ve had so many different clubs, so it’s a pleasure to be here.”

On the plan for Marbella

“For us, it’s about the time we spend on the training pitch. There will be opportunities for double sessions and there will be opportunities to use the facilities at the hotel and have downtime at the right time. We’re here to work – pre-season has already started, and this is the second phase now.

“This is getting the fitness levels back and making sure you understand you can’t go too quickly into pre-season. Fast-forward a few weeks when we’re in the US, we’re close to the Premier League season, so a lot more games in the schedule.”

On the benefit of changing the scenery

“Early in my career, a lot of pre-seasons were spent at home. It was only through my mid-20s where we started going to destinations further afield, and I really enjoyed them. They added value to me as a player and, from a coach’s perspective, it’s good to get away from the environment you spend a good ten months in, back in Wolverhampton, so to spend time here in Spain and the US is brilliant. I enjoyed it as a player, getting away and focusing on the job in hand, ready for a new season.

“From a player’s perspective, they’re sharing stories from the summer and experiences from the past six weeks, then very quickly get down to work. It started on day one, the balls were out straight away, and the performance staff have put together a fantastic pre-season with the staff. This is Gary’s first pre-season here at Wolves and it’s one he’s looking forward to.”

On pre-season for the staff

“It is absolutely [a similar buzz]. I was very much looking forward to coming back. I had a good break, I spent some quality time with friends and family, and had an opportunity to get away which was really nice, and those two weeks leading into coming back were full of excitement and expectation of what a new season can bring, and all of us share that. It was a good year and now we look forward to having our first pre-season.

“Our first year together was largely successful. We’ve got a group in constant dialogue, thinking about the next opponent, and we’ve got opportunities to tweak systems. We’re ready and we’ve had discussions over the summer. The manager Gary has been brilliant, keeping us all up to speed with his thoughts. It doesn’t come as a surprise, we’ve been drip-fed into his wishes for the new season and we look forward to them.”

On taking a break

“You have to give the players time and space – that breather from a hectic Premier League schedule. It was a tough season last year and one where we achieved many good things in. Come that last game of the season at Liverpool, we knew some players would leave and lot of them would spend a number of weeks home with family and friends. You have to respect that, and just like they do with the staff, we need that break. It’s nice to have that downtime. But, of course, it’s a fantastic football club with a network around it and we do keep in contact with the boys.”

On having players competing internationally

“It’s quite complex. To organise a pre-season, you have to take into consideration what the last six weeks have looked like. The Euros and Copa America are still taking place and the boys have played international games over the summer. It’s a staggered approach coming back to pre-season and once the latter stages come to light, around the America tour, you get all your players back and you can push forward towards the start of the season.”

On the new signings bedding in

“It’s really important. From a football perspective, they’ll be building relationships on the pitch, but it’s so important to build them off it as well. It will be interesting from a coaching perspective, just seeing where they sit at the tables and the relationships they build off the pitch. There’s a great support mechanism around the players, so they’ll take to it really quickly.”