Connolly sensing players taking on board his new Pompey involvement

David Connolly. Picture: Joe Pepler
David Connolly. Picture: Joe Pepler
Theo Widdrington. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey youngster announces departure

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A seat in the dug-out or a place in the stands has been David Connolly’s regular match-day position for the past month.

Yet the veteran striker believes he has been able to provide players with a different outlook to their football.

As a player/coach, Connolly’s input on the training ground and during matches has steadily increased over recent weeks while injury has restricted his game time.

And the 36-year-old has been impressed with how his ideas appear to have been taken on board.

He said: ‘There are little things you notice, loads of stuff.

‘Take throw-ins, we recently played a game and I thought our retention was poor and the stats after showed that.

‘At a throw-in you have 100 per cent of the ball basically and we had kept it 34 per cent of the time – so were giving it away 66 per cent of the time.

‘We were playing against a team who played one up front so when any of our full-backs had the ball we were effectively a five-versus-one including our goalkeeper, but if we just throw it up the line we lose it 66 per cent of the time.

‘It is a mindset shift. I said it to one of our players and he said ‘No, no, we just want to throw it up the line’. I understand that and it has to be softly, softly catchy monkey.

‘The next game the player came to me and asked what the stats were for his throw-ins and how often we kept it down his side.

‘When I am not playing I ask some of the other lads who I am sitting with to do the stats for me.

‘Whether it is Danny East or Tom Craddock, let’s make use of those players and then I give those stats to the manager at half-time.

‘The player had kept it 10 times out of 12 on his throws so that’s good. Although it might have been by luck as sometimes we threw it down the line hoping for the best.

‘He told me “I think we got lucky a few times” and I was pleased with that.

‘I hadn’t forced it upon him, I had given him information and now he is starting to realise that maybe there is a better way for us to keep the ball.’

Connolly’s positive involvement does not purely centre on the training pitch.

He believes his experience can benefit the players in other ways.

And the former Wimbledon striker has stressed the importance of educating his team-mates in other areas.

He added: ‘All the lads are good lads but some of them might need educating.

‘Some might have a high body fat because they don’t know about nutrition.

‘I do but I am experienced, maybe they don’t.

‘I was at Sunderland and Trevor Carson was a young pro, I remember him doing fat burners one afternoon and I didn’t agree with it at all.

‘He needed educating on nutrition.

‘Maybe they felt Trevor was carrying a bit of excess weight, but he was still one of the fastest players – and I’ve got the Academy’s results because I used to coach them.

‘I’ve got his sprint time over 10m as well as Jordan Henderson’s, Jack Colback’s, that whole team and the next year and year below and he was so fast.

‘Now he is like a toothpick, maybe he has educated himself, maybe someone has come in and helped. A lot of players want to do it but sometimes don’t know how.’