Mediawatch #3: Mills’ odd punditry, not odd coaching techniques

After Town’s 4-1 victory over Bournemouth on Sunday to revive our survival hopes, most pundits praised our reinvigorated attacking play and return to our traditional ‘terrier identity’. However, one English pundit seemed perplexed at our manager’s coaching methods.

Speaking on that world famous media outlet, Astro Sports, former England full-back Danny Mills made the unusual remarks of stating:

“His methods are unusual for English football. 3 days before a game, his team train at whatever time kick-off is. It might sound a good idea but if that’s on a Friday, they’ll be training late and then they’ll have to travel late to a game and be stuck in traffic jams on a Friday night…”

Let’s take a moment to unpack this comment before we go further.

The fact that Head Coach David Wagner instructs his players to train at the same time as kick-off time is to acclimatise them to the environment they will be in a few days later.

The weather, the humidity, the temperature and what state their body is in will all have an impact on a player’s performance and if a player’s body has already adjusted to that set of variables before the main event, it can only be beneficial.

It also makes you wonder why other managers have not employed this tactic already to get an edge over their opponents.

Considering that David Wagner’s background includes a degree in Sports Science, it would suggest that the German may be slightly more well-informed than Danny Mills.

Mills went on to agree with his fellow pundit that there was also “some logic” to it but he then went on to suggest that:

“it’s great when it works. The moment it doesn’t work, players will turn on you, in an instant. They’ll say ‘I don’t like doing that and it’s because I was sat in the car’”

For me, this says more about Danny Mills than anything else. It suggests that HE would be willing to turn on a manager in an instant because a manager is trying to implement a logical, justified change to the club’s weekly training regime.

He then went onto describe other so-called odd managerial methods like his old gaffer Martin O’Neill. He joked that O’Neill would allow players to “drink 5, 10, 15 pints of beer, fine. As long as you play well on Saturday. If you don’t, you’ll never play for me again”.

Surely out-dated “methods” such as these are completely incomparable with actual coaching techniques that have proven to be successful at our club.

Although his methods and even his coaching philosophy could be argued to be out-dated now, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger faced this exact criticism almost ad verbatim when he first arrived in England. Giving players nutritious meals instead of a pizza and curry?

No hard-core drinking sessions down the pub before and after games? He won’t last long in the Premier League with that attitude, the cabal of old boys’ networks that made up pundits in those days said.

Maybe Danny Mills should question actual odd coaching techniques when he sees them instead of lumping in innovative methods David Wagner employs with 5am drinking sessions.

I thought this tired suspicion of foreign manager’s techniques underpinned by a casual xenophobia had been left in the 90s. I hope that’s where it stays.