It was a gruelling week in Portugal for the Hibernian FC players as they worked furiously with Lee Johnson and his coaching staff to understand, learn, and execute his new style of play.
Johnson has a track-record of developing and introducing a high-quality, attacking brand of football – a style that’s synonymous with Hibernian FC.
Whilst that takes time for the players to adapt, Johnson has left no stone unturned to ensure the process goes as quickly as possible.
Upon the players’ return to HTC for pre-season, they focused on fitness before moving into ball-work during the week-long training camp in the Algarve.
That camp saw the players undergo a number of double sessions, and sometimes triple sessions, as he created short, sharp exercises to get that style across.
“It was definitely to bed in some key tactical principles off the ball, that was important, so we worked 85% off the ball and 15% on the ball.
“We need to be organised going into competitive games so early. We were challenged in the games we played, the boys stood up to it, and I honestly think they enjoyed it.
“They were tired at the end of the trip, but it’s about getting that balance and rejuvenating them, so we can hit the ground running.”
Finding that balance between technical and tactical work was paramount for Johnson as his players had to deal with the 30+ degree heat.
“It’s a delicate balance because you want to go into the games fresh enough so you can perform.
“We had fans there, and when you have fans there you want to put on a show. I thought the lads did in the second game, four goals scored, and that’s the impact we want on the performances. Two tough games for different reasons but we’ve come through them.
“We needed to push the boys as well but didn’t want injuries. It’s almost like how far do you stretch an elastic band before it snaps, and touch-wood at the moment, the boys are in good shape.”
As we gear up to our first competitive game, taking on Clyde at Easter Road in the Premier Sports Cup, Johnson’s focus is clear: “Performance, performance, performance.”
“Can we find ways to keep improving performance, can we drip feed information, can we cope with different styles, can we cope with going behind; these are the constant questions.
“We’re bedding in our principles. It’s been nice that we won our two games because that creates a buy in from the lads, especially when the lads perform well individually.
“Listen, Portugal was a really good week, but it’s the foundations for us, ready for when the season kicks off.”