“Prepare sloppily and play sloppily.”
......things begin sloppily then it will undoubtedly transmit onto the field of play.
Going back to my days a young pro at Swansea City, if we didn’t even turn up for training with clean boots and suitable attire, we were fined and severely admonished.
Then I learned extremely good habits from my days with Ron Atkinson at Kettering Town, who was a stickler for concentration in the dressing room when he was addressing the team – I recall one player who decided to tie his boots up whilst `Big Ron` was talking, and he was left out of the team the next game (it being too late to leave him out on the day!).
But, although the Senior Youth League is as good a standard as you`ll find in terms of under-18 football, the players aren`t paid and we don`t have the threat of fines or the docking of wages to punish them by if they overstep the mark.
We can only presume they would give managers and coaches a little respect.
At Potton United on Thursday, players turned up late, some not in their club tracksuits provided free of charge, and the warm-up began at least 10 minutes late.
It was a sloppy, sloppy start.
And, just as I feared, the sloppiness did transmit onto the pitch as before long we found ourselves 2-0 down, despite having all the possession.
Okay, it was Potton`s only two shots at goal – but, despite our domination of the ball, a lot of it was sideways and backwards and we showed little threat in front of goal ourselves.
But a Harvey Bland header from a corner put us back into the game ahead of the break.
Within seconds of the restart, Bland popped up with his second headed goal to pull us back on level terms – the perfect start to the second half.
But then a poor bit of defending all round gifted Potton their third from a corner, but once again back came Boro to leve with Bland completing his hat-trick.
However, out of the blue, a Potton player, who wasn`t shut down, decided to have a go from 25 yards and it flew past Sam Curtis for a real `worldy` of a fourth goal.
That could have deflated some teams, but, although there are elements of this team that annoy me and aren`t yet right, there`s no disputing it has spirit and once again we fought back to equalise at 4-4 with Bland once again on hand.
Then, as stoppage time ticked in, a very tired skipper Ben Fitzjohn, who has hardly slept after becoming a father the day before, missed a golden opportunity to win it, as did Harvey Lewis and Bland again.
But, all-round, we need to be better next week if we are to do any good in the FA Youth Cup.
The draw is tough enough as it is, being against one of the best under-18 sides outside the Football League in Biggleswade Town, but if we take our `A` game and prepare properly, we have a chance.
Prepare like we did at Potton and we have no chance!
However, these are decent lads in the main and I`m sure things will improve.
Updated 11:56 - 29 Sep 2017 by Steve Whitney
Sam Curtis; Jaydon Taylor, Jordan-Lee Holmes, Dante Memoli; Dan Owen, James Bishop, Callum Herring, Frankie Hayes, Callum Harley; Ben Fitzjohn, Harvey Bland. Subs used: Harvey Lewis, James Lea. Not used: Harry Arundel.