Player power makes Park­side a bet­ter team

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Sport - By JAMES WEST­GATE james.west­gate@jpress.co.uk

ANY teams strug­gling for form could do worse than take a leaf from Park­side man­ager Mar­tyn Neale’s book.

Af­ter a mis­er­able cam­paign last sea­son, rather than ring the changes or im­ple­ment a rig­or­ous new train­ing pro­gramme to put things right, Neale de­cided to hand con­trol to his play­ers. And so far the re­sults have been spec­tac­u­lar.

The city side were rel­e­gated from Divi­sion Two of the Ju­nior Al­liance Un­der 13 age group in miser- able fash­ion af­ter los­ing ev­ery game, ship­ping 184 goals in the process.

But this time round it’s been a to­tally dif­fer­ent story. Af­ter 10 games of the cur­rent cam­paign Park­side are sit­ting pretty in fourth place with six wins from their first 10 games, and it’s all down to player power.

Neale said: “We had a very poor sea­son last time and ob­vi­ously ended up rel­e­gated with­out win­ning a game. So dur­ing the sum­mer we just sat them down and told the play­ers we were go­ing to give them more own­er­ship of the way the team is run.

“And they have all re­ally bought into the idea to the point where now we let the boys pick the team them­selves.

“If some­one does well in train­ing and shows the right at­ti­tude and the right amount of ef­fort then they get into the side.

“At­ti­tude and ef­fort are the key words for us this sea­son and so far it is work­ing re­ally well. All the lads are re­ally pos­i­tive, they can see that what we are try­ing to do is work­ing and the re­sults are start­ing to go in our favour.”

But de­spite their up­turn in for­tunes, Neale is ea­ger to keep the pres­sure off his play­ers.

Af­ter hit­ting a five-game win­ning streak, Park­side went through a rough patch re­cently af­ter los­ing two on the bounce be­fore get­ting back to ba­sics in their last game of 2011 with a 5-2 win against Wasps.

“We had an ex­cel­lent start to the sea­son but we lost our way a bit,” added Neale.

“I think the lads were wor­ry­ing too much about go­ing out there and get­ting re­sults, so we spoke to them and tried to take the pres­sure off. They are still a fairly new team and they need to re­mem­ber that it is not just about win­ning for the sake of win­ning.

“We try not to get too ob­sessed with look­ing at league ta­bles of how good other teams are, we just try to fo­cus on what we can do out there and we will see where that gets us and they did re­ally well against Wasps to fin­ish the year on a high.

“It’s still far too early to say where we will fin­ish but the first half of the sea­son has been great and as long as the boys keep putting the ef­fort in ev­ery game we can­not ask for any­more.”

SOLID FOUN­DA­TIONS: Park Farm Pu­mas are pic­tured re­ceiv­ing a £5,000 grant. In front from the left are Coun­cil­lor Chris Harper, chair­man Ciaran Mcauley and An­drew Swift from spon­sors Costa’s.

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