Abercrombie: “We’re really milking every second on the training ground”
As Sheffield FC Women head into their eighth week of training, first team manager, Graham Abercrombie, discussed the feeling of getting back into training and his squad’s work ethic so far with new press officer Charlie Walden.
“We’ve had a nice head start, to be honest. Five weeks or so of socially-distanced training, all technical stuff, it’s been really good, and we’ve been able to introduce a lot of new players in that time which has really helped ease them in as well.”
Abercrombie thinks the restart of football is a ‘godsend’ for most people: “There’s been lots of us all locked up in little houses with limited opportunities to get out. Football has been a massive help and really welcomed by everyone, both staff and players.
“I think the fact is, when you’re involved in football, you’re twiddling your thumbs at the weekend when you don’t have a game, never mind three or four months without even kicking a ball.
“We’re all really pleased to be back, but we’re still adhering to strict processes and protocols to make sure training is as safe as it can be. The excitement when we were able to get back to some degree of contact football – it was like Christmas for everybody.”
The manager discussed some of the challenges of maintaining safety and social distancing. He said: “The tricky bit, if there was a tricky bit, was when we were moving from one part of the session to the next part, when players had a few minutes of downtime – that was when we had to be really on people – to make sure we maintain spaces.
“Naturally, human nature took over and people wanted to have a little closer chat and next thing people were on the way to being shoulder to shoulder. So we’ve had to be very vigilant to prevent all of that, and we’ve benefited massively now.”
Graham was asked about the season being null and void following the Covid-19 outbreak, and how it guaranteed that Sheffield FC Women would stay in the league. He said: “It is a really sad way of doing it, and we wouldn’t have chosen to do it that way of course.
“But it is what it is – we can’t control that piece, but ultimately it meant we stayed in the division, and of course we draw a line in the sand now, and it is a fresh start.
“I came in late and we were already in trouble by that time. We were trying to make some moves last year to put the brakes on first of all, but now it’s a fresh season, a fresh start and we want to make an impact on the league.”
Abercrombie discussed the departures of a couple players and some new faces he has added to the squad. He said: “We’ve had a couple of players leave, but more through logistics than actually wanting to leave, so that’s been sad.
“We’ve added five or six strong players, and I’m really excited about those coming in, and already they’re making a positive impression on the playing group as well as the staff.
“We’re excited this year, we really are, because we’ve got this young enthusiasm now added to the good solid squad we had.
“We needed to fill a few spots last year, and we’ve done some good business so far, and there’s more to come. There’s going to be some quality coming through our gates and putting on a Sheffield FC shirt.
“I know we’re going to have an ultimately different season than we did last year and the last couple seasons really – there’s going to be a big positive change here, and we’re very excited about that.”
When asked about what work the players are doing at this point in pre-season, Abercrombie said: “Do you know what… it has been a good blend actually. We’re doing football fitness so that ultimately means lots of the ball involved, lots of disguised fitness, but they’re working hard – that’s the key.
“The second they step on the training ground, the players are pushing themselves to the very last moment.
“We’re really milking every second on the training ground with hard work, whether that be with the ball or without the ball, at the moment.
“Naturally, that will ramp up; we’re about 65 to 70 percent max at the moment, so we’re happy where we’re at, but there’s a lot more to come energy wise and effort wise.
“We’re taking our time with it. We don’t want to peak at this stage when the season is still potentially six or seven weeks away, but we’re going to be ready when the it starts, and that’s the important time.”
Graham also went through his aim and ambitions for the upcoming season. He said: “The aim is to always win the league. People will think I’m a bit bonkers even thinking that, considering the past two seasons the Club’s had, but that’s what I’m in football for, and that’s what all of us are here for – we want to win.
“However, realistically, a strong improvement would be very welcome – anything where we’re mid-table or above that would be a terrific season for us.
“Regardless of some clubs having lots of money and signing some very big players in our league now, we’re still ambitious, and we’re not going to lose sight of the underdog thing.”
The Club’s new signings will be announced in the next couple of weeks via our social media platforms.