Interview : Russell Slade : 21/07/2006
Russell Slade speaks to BBC Bristol prior to the Portsmouth game
Russell Slade
Russell Slade
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BBC Radio Bristol's Alistair Durden talked to Glovers manager Russell Slade on July 21st 2006 prior to the match against Premiership side Portsmouth.

How have the pre-season preparations gone?

RS: Pretty good really. The attitude of the players has been excellent and the new players that have come in have mixed well with the old boys. So that has gone quite well and there is a good team spirit growing already. We are fortunate in that we were able to get away for three or four days to Cornwall and that was a nice little bonding trip that got everyone together and everyone is getting along fine.

Qu: What are you looking for most? Are you looking for a bit of camaraderie with the new boys? Are you looking for results, fitness?

RS: At this stage you are looking for performance and fitness as your main targets, with a view to obviously the 5th of August as being the most important date. I say we are all getting along well but when I start picking teams and start making selections, when it gets interesting towards the first game proper then obviously it will get competitive. And that's what you want - you want it competitive by nature.

Qu: You see a lot on the training ground, but when you take players away on the training ground, you learn a lot more about them, when you see them away from the football field.

RS: Yes you do and you don't realise how daft some of them are - that's for sure! Yes, we had good fun and we did a bit of everything - that was the nice thing. We took them cycling, we took them to an RAF base, we did various things and we had a great three or four days. The weather was glorious and it was beneficial. It just shows that you don't have to go to Ibiza or Italy, although we have been lucky with the weather - I'll grant you that much.

Qu: And back here at Huish Park, you weren't here last season but the pitch has looked better than it has for a long time I think.

RS: Yes, it is in very good condition. The ground staff have worked exceptionally hard from day one. Since I've been here, they have been relentless in preparing the pitch and we have been very pleased with it.

Qu: How has Yeovil embraced you? How have you been made to feel welcome?

RS: Yes, it is good and we are settled. We've found accommodation certainly in the short term in a little village just outside Yeovil. That's important - to settle the family. I am starting to find my way about a little bit and to get used to the area and I am enjoying myself right now. That will change, I suspect, when we lose a football match, but I will enjoy the fun whilst it is lasting and so far so good. We got a well-earned win against Exeter in the end. It wasn't a great first half but it was a good second half for us, after two comfortable wins in Cornwall, which I think helped with confidence. Tonight we've got the mighty Pompey so it might be a different kettle of fish of course and we're expecting it to be a very difficult task.

Qu: Do you think that it is the case that supporters seem to expect more out of pre-season now? They seem to come here hoping to see everything, even though we are still a fortnight away?

RS: Yes, I think sometimes. But I think the realistic fans to be fair are just looking to see the team improve and to look at the new faces that have come into your football club and the manner in which the team is developing. I think they look for those sort of things. Obviously there are other fans who just come here to see their team win. Obviously it's always nice to win, but it's not the priority of course. Though it would be nice to get a good result against Portsmouth here tonight.

Qu: As the new man with some new players, do you feel under any extra pressure ahead of the season?

RS: Not any different to any other season I have to say! There will always be pressure surrounding a football club at any given time, to be honest - whether it's the pressure of promotion, relegation or whatever. It's a volatile industry as you well know, but it's certainly one in which I get a buzz from and enjoy and I wouldn't change it for the world.

Qu: The players always talk about enjoying playing games. Does that include the pre-season games - do they enjoy those?

RS: Yes, of course they do. They would rather do that than some of the physical stuff that you do on the training ground, which I suppose can be mundane. But what we've tried to do is to put plenty of variety into the training and I think they have responded quite well, but you'll have to ask them about that.

Qu: Tell me about your squad recruitment, because I don't think you are quite finished yet are you?

RS: I hope not! I keep telling the Chairman that I am not! I would like to bring in two or three more - it would be nice to wheel and deal before we kick a ball in earnest. Lee Morris of course we are waiting for. He is expected to play next week. He had a slight hamstring problem which set him back a bit in Cornwall. So that's one for us. It's also been well documented that I would like a left-sider, which I have chased on several occasions but to no avail at the moment. I am hopeful that we can strengthen before we start on the 5th of August - that's for sure.

Qu: You're showing a lot of patience with Lee Morris, which is I suppose an indication of how highly you've rated him down the years.

RS: Yes, when is the last time a four million pound player came on trial to Yeovil? That tells you something of his pedigree. I had him as a kid at Sheffield United and he is a very talented boy. He's been very unfortunate with some of the injuries that he has picked up over his career, albeit he is still only 25. He is a very fit lad by nature. Sometimes when you get major surgery or major injuries, it is other parts of the body that unfortunately take a little bit more time to get back to that peak fitness. Lee has got something a little bit different and he is worth waiting for. I do hope he comes through because he will be a real asset to this football club if he does.

Qu: You've got an interesting situation with the strikers because you've got Daniel Webb and he has netted six, but is he actually part of your plans?

RS: Well, it's a clean slate. Danny has got the goals so far and he has done particularly well. They are all trying and that is what you want - you want competition for places, whether it is up front or in the centre of midfield where we've got plenty of competition as well.

Qu: And you mentioned the left hand side - Ishmael - have you not been able to work anything out with him?

RS: We are very close. We are just thrashing out a deal for the young lad at the moment. It is an opportunity for him and that's the way he ought to see it and that's the way his representative ought to see it!

Qu: Playing hardball are they?

RS: No, not particularly hardball, but we are here to offer an opportunity and try and relaunch his career - after all, it was another football club that let him go and we are trying to relaunch it for him.

Qu: You clearly like what you've seen about him - he has impressed in the four games.

RS: Yes, in the bits and pieces that he has done, and don't forget it is still early days, he has done some good things. Again he has a good attitude and he has got that little bit of pace. At the end of the day, he does appear to be able to deliver that final ball.

Qu: So he and Lee Morris could be two of the three - is that fair to say?

RS: It's a possibility - yes. I think you're getting quite close. Having said that it would be a lot of pressure on Welsh if he was in the No. 1 slot. I see him as playing the odd game or coming on and making an impact from the bench every now and again. He is a young lad and he will have his ups and downs and to put the pressure onto an 18 year old like that to start would perhaps not be right. But we'll have to wait and see on that account.

Qu: So you've got another one up your sleeve that no-one else knows about. Is it anything that is particularly close?

RS: There are a few. If you are not spinning plates as a manager with players that you feel can improve your team or your squad then you are not doing your job. So there are always one or two of those, I'm afraid.

Qu: What about this game that you've got here tonight against Portsmouth? They've been down here quite a lot throughout the years in this part of the world. Harry likes to take them out on tour, so this could be quite an examination couldn't it?

RS: It's either that or Harry doesn't like to travel too far. He did Torquay the other day. It is fantastic that Portsmouth are coming here tonight. It's great for the football club, it's great for the fans that they are able to see Premiership opposition at close quarters. It's a great occasion and we are expecting a crowd of around 4,000 here tonight and that is terrific for a pre-season game.

Qu: Your defenders are looking forward to keeping tabs on Lua Lua no doubt!

RS: Probably not! It's been very hot and it was particularly hot against Exeter and it is expected to take its toll tonight. I was pleased with our fitness levels on Tuesday though. I thought we ground Exeter down and looked very strong in the second half. Let's hope we grind Portsmouth down as well.

Qu: But are a bit further behind in their preparation though aren't they, because they've got an extra two weeks before the season starts?

RS: I do hope so! I hope they are a mile behind, but I think I am clutching at straws! In all the leagues now, players are so fit, and when players come back from a break in the summer now, they are incredibly well-tuned still. In the Premiership they are no different. They are our prime athletes in the sport in this country and I expect them to be the fittest side that we have played so far in this pre-season.

Qu: A couple of other bits of business - Michele Di Piedi - have you managed to get that elusive international clearance?

RS: Well I have got news for you - yes! We did and he will be on the bench tonight. At some stage we will get a look at him. So the Italian is mighty happy about that. It has been a bit frustrating for him but eventually it came through this morning and we are able to field him in our squad tonight.

Qu: And he needs to show you something, I would imagine.

RS: Yes, he does. Whether he gets 45 minutes or half an hour tonight, he does need to impress. So far he has not dug up any trees. Perhaps he is searching for his own fitness but then a lot of that is down to him. I can't understand why players sometimes want to come to you on trial and then they can't get themselves into the best shape to do themselves justice. But we've worked with him fortunately for about 10 days now and he is in better shape and lets hope he is a revelation because that will give me a nice kind of headache.

Qu: Are you looking at anyone else tonight, or will that be all of the players that you've got?

RS: No, all of my squad will be here tonight and the only trialist is the Italian. Ishmael is with us but that is likely to be permanent in the near future and that's it really. Everyone else is Yeovil through and through.

Qu: I know it's hard to say when it will be done, but are you hoping by the start of next week?

RS: Yes, the latest I want to it to be sorted by is the start of next week. I'm hoping that Ishmael will see it as a great opportunity to join us.

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Next Interview : 21/07/2006 : Russell Slade's post-match view of the Portsmouth friendly
Previous Interview : 21/07/2006 : Jean-Paul Kalala after the 2-0 defeat to Portsmouth in a preseason friendly
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26/12/2006Russell Slade talks to BBC Radio Bristol after the 3-1 win at BrightonView
23/12/2006Russell Slade talks to BBC Radio Bristol after the 0-0 draw against BradfordView
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02/12/2006Russell Slade talks to BBC Radio Bristol after the 2-3 defeat against RotherhamView
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05/08/2006Russell Slade's post-match view of the 1-1 draw at MillwallView
29/07/2006Russell Slade talks to BBC Radio Bristol prior to the Weymouth friendlyView
21/07/2006Russell Slade speaks to BBC Bristol prior to the Portsmouth gameView
21/07/2006Russell Slade's post-match view of the Portsmouth friendlyView
23/06/2006Russell Slade talks to BBC Radio Bristol after a week of signingsView
08/06/2006Russell Slade is interviewed on BBC Somerset Sound's breakfast programmeView
07/06/2006The press conference to introduce Russell Slade as Yeovil Town managerView

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