Busy Bradford City boss Graham Alexander on assessing players quickly ahead of January transfer window
Mercifully, it’s been a clear week in the respect of having no midweek fixture to negotiate - and the new Bantams chief is grateful for that.
But in every other respect, he’s had scant time to spare as he gets up to speed with every aspect of his new club.
Alongside preparing for one of City’s toughest appointments of the season so far at Notts County on Saturday, Alexander is conscious that the clock is starting to tick regarding the opening of the January transfer window, which is now less than fifty days away.
With the Bantams operating with one of the biggest - some would choose to say bloated - squads in League Two, thinning the numbers is an obvious consideration.
Some loan signings and summer arrivals have struggled for game-time for instance, with Alexander also entitled to be conscious of the need to give himself room for manoeuvre by making some space for some potential new arrivals.
Discussions have been held with the club’s hierarchy already and they will intensify as the window gets closer.
Alexander said: “At this stage in mid-November, certainly with me coming in as a new coach, I have got to assess players really quickly to see who can carry us forward.
"Because the window will be open and there’s some players who are aware of that as well.
"I am sure there’s a couple of players in our squad who people might covet as well. That’s the other thing I am not aware of yet.
"So there’s all that stuff that goes on. But we are still in mid-November, so I am going to focus on Saturday as that will be tough enough!
"In the week, we look at all these other things that we have got to plan for. I have been having conversations with Ryan (Sparks - CEO) and Stephen Gent (head of recruitment) about the potential in January.
"I’ve said to them ‘look, give us a few weeks, so I can really assess the players I already have."
For Alexander, the assessment process is two-fold and constant.
It takes place each working day within the confines of the club’s training ground at Woodhouse Grove.
It also comes to the fore on every matchday amid a competitive environment which represents the true barometer.
Alexander witnessed some things he liked and some which were not so good in his opening game in charge against Barrow last weekend.
A defeat was hardly ideal. But in terms of learning about his players, he acknowledges that he will have perhaps garnered more from a loss as opposed to a win.
He continued: “There’s always going to be negative things happen and it’s how we respond and learn from those episodes and put them into context and move forward.
"You don’t have the disappointment in training of conceding a goal after 24 seconds. You can’t re-enact that in training. It’s like a bit of a devastation (i a game) and it’s ‘come on, then - let’s see what our character and personality is like.’
"We will have more occasions like that when we are learning about the group and each individual, bit by bit and it’s all beneficial.”
A vastly-respected professional in his playing days, Alexander - among an exclusive number to have amassed over 1,000 appearances across all four professional tiers of the English game - is well placed to speak about player longevity and what it takes.
Showing consistency over many years requires not just talent, but mentality above all else, in his eyes. And handling pressure.
Alexander did that in his successful associations with Preston and Burnley, two comparable clubs to Bradford, in particular.
It helps to explain why he plays so much importance on assessing character and looking into the whites of his players’ eyes and seeing what makes them tick.
He and his assistant Chris Lucketti - who also had a rock-solid career at EFL level - are making it their business to find out who they can truly trust.
Alexander added: "There’s an awful lot of players who want to get to professional levels and an awful lot of lads who don’t get to this level who are super-talented, fit, this, that and the other.
"But something is missing in what is needed to reproduce performances under pressure for 46, 50 games.
"It’s tough and you have to create a really strong mindset and consistency in your behaviour to then create consistency on the pitch.
"That’s as big a skill as any other skill you have in football.
"That’s what we are trying to see as if we want to be successful, it’s over a considerable amount of time."
Liam Ridehalgh (concussion) and loanee Daniel Oyegoke (shoulder/collarbone) are sidelined tomorrow, with the latter facing a spell on the sidelines which could require surgery.
Oyegoke is being assessed back at parent club Brentford.
Lewis Richards and Ciaran Kelly are vying to step in. Kevin McDonald (hamstring) is out alongside Vadaine Oliver (knee) and Alex Pattison (hamstring).