Leeds United: Harrogate game a chance to try things out – Rosler

Lewie Coyle

Lewie Coyle

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Amid the usual off-field duties of any football manager, Uwe Rosler’s focus in his first fortnight of coaching Leeds United has had shades of the Tony Blairs: conditioning, conditioning, conditioning.

Morning and afternoon sessions at Thorp Arch will break for the club’s first pre-season friendly tonight, a match which Rosler hopes will find his squad slightly fatigued.

“We want to go into the game a little bit tired, to try and push the players more,” he said.

United’s new head coach explained at the outset of pre-season training last week that his style of football – high intensity pressing football – would require a certain level of fitness and the club’s friendly at Harrogate Town this evening will be more about that than an outright exercise in strategy and tactics.

“First and foremost we’re not concentrating on the result or the game,” Rosler said.

“For us it’s a training session where we train under game conditions.

“We’ll be trying out things and it’ll be two teams for each of the 45 minutes. We want to play at a good intensity.

“We’ve put the squad through a training regime which is quite tough but I think the players understood why we’re doing it.

“I showed them a presentation of how we want to play and they realise that to play that way you need to be very fit.

“It’s been conditioning, conditioning, conditioning. They’re working hard and that’s all I can ask for.

“At the moment there’s a good atmosphere and everyone wants to impress. That’s a dream scenario at this stage.”

The importance of fitness nothwithstanding, tonight’s friendly at Wetherby Road will also give an initial impression of Rosler’s philosophy.

The 46-year-old German describes himself as a disciple of two specific formations – 4-3-3 and 3-5-2 – and the clash with Harrogate should see both used.

“We’ll put the formations out that I talked about on day one,” Rosler said.

“There’ll be two teams with two different ways to play.

“We have five (friendlies) and the players have to show and impress as much as they can in those games.”

Midfielder Luke Murphy will miss tonight’s game after undergoing knee surgery but Rosler has an otherwise clean bill of health.

Most of his four new signings will play against Harrogate and he hinted yesterday that certain academy prospects, most notably right back Lewie Coyle who signed a new contract with Leeds this week, could feature in either line-up.

Unlike the anticipation that comes with the start of the new season, Rosler does not expect his players to be itching for a game this evening.

“They’re very tired,” he said. “Pre-season is a lot of physical work but also a lot of mental work.

“You know that every morning you’re coming to the training ground and doing the majority of things that you normally don’t like to do.

“Nearly every day, two training sessions in the heat – you work on mental toughness.

“But the players are responding very well and I can’t ask for any more of them.”

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