With a two-week gap from competitive first-team matches, we caught up with Robbo for a chat about using the extra training time effectively.
Our Head Coach updated us about a friendly at the Cherry Red Records Stadium on Thursday, which ended in a 3-1 defeat against a Brentford XI with Nesta Guinness-Walker on the scoresheet for the Dons.
“For 25 minutes we were excellent, really good on the ball, and we went 1-0 up, thanks to an excellent goal that Nesta scored, but then there was a dip," said Robbo. "We gave away two cheap goals before half-time, and the second-half was different as we brought on loads of youngsters, including the Under-18s. We ended up losing 3-1, but for 25 minutes in terms of how we looked after the ball and our movement we were as good as we’ve been. That’s not good enough though, and we’ve got to be working towards complete performances.
“The aim was to give some of the lads that haven’t played as much more minutes, so Marshy played 75 minutes, and we got 45 minutes into the others that have played regularly. We just didn’t want to have two weeks without any first-team games at all.”
Wimbledon's break from first-team fixtures will be followed up by two games in four days, starting with Sheffield Wednesday at home on 16 October, and Robbo stressed the importance of keeping his squad fresh.
“We’ve got to make sure that we are sharp and we are ready. It can be good having a two-week break from games because you can work on things, but we’ve also got to make sure that they are ready to go. I noticed in the last international break that there were a few teams that didn’t have games, and their results were not positive when they came back. I need to look at that and make sure that we are ready to be firing on all cylinders come next Saturday.”
Robbo felt that this week was the ideal time to address areas where he believes the squad have fallen short recently.
“I’ve introduced some training methods that I believe in. These are ones that I’ve done before in terms of player ownership, but it felt like the right time to do it. It’s a bigger change for some, but not for others that know me. The lads are buying into it. Some of them had possibly been used to being told what to do all the time, so it’s steering away from that. I believe some of our less positive results have come from people not being able to take ownership and react to things during games.
“When you speak about leaders everyone mentions players talking on the pitch, but people can also lead in their performances and their actions. It’s more about the players taking control of situations. It’s not about shouting and screaming, it’s more about your actions, and recognising when there is a dip in your intensity. The players can then rectify it themselves instead of waiting until half-time. To do this you need to have honest conversations, and know each other inside out.”
Though hard work comes first at our New Malden training base, players have been staying on to show off their talents in a completely different sporting code! Table tennis is a game that has captured the imagination – and Robbo is aiming to brush up on his own skills.
“I’m not getting to play as much as the other lads, so I need to get my eye in, but I’m doing all right. I’m losing, but not by much so I need to get a little bit more practice in!
"If you don’t have that other side to it you don’t get to know people. As well as coming in and working hard – putting everything into training – so that there is that educational environment, you also want a place where they feel they can be themselves. If you don’t get them to relax, to open up, and be themselves, then you don’t thoroughly get to know them. You need to get to know them to make them tick because everyone is different.”