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Jack Ross: Really Enjoyable Week

St Mirren have no game this weekend due to Morton reaching the semi-final of the Betfred Cup, but Saints manager Jack Ross has been using this week to get things up to speed on the training ground.

“It’s been really good this week. I thought it was a good thing having a free week as it gave us this week to use like a pre-season, not to flog the players as their fitness levels are okay, it was just to top it up and work on some other things.

“For me it has been a really enjoyable week and I think the players have enjoyed it as well. We have managed to cram in a lot, it has been really positive as the players have came in and picked themselves up after the disappointment of losing the game last week and worked really hard this week.

“I genuinely love coaching and I do like putting training sessions together. I think the players know that there is a massive amount of variety in what we do as they will very seldom do the same type of thing so there is no monotony involved in it as we try to test them and push them all the time. So from my side, it has been brilliant it is just prioritising all the things going through my head that I want to try and do to help us improve as a club.

“Some of them are my individual responsibilities as manager and some of them will involve other people so it is just trying to clear your mind on what becomes important and obviously what happens on the park is the most important thing at the moment but I have honestly immensely enjoyed the last week and a half. I wouldn’t say more than I thought but I think it is amazing how quickly I have settled into it. Even last Saturday, except for the result I enjoyed parts of the game as well, enjoyed being on the touchline at the ground and I look forward to that continuing. I’ve settled in really quickly and I feel at home which is really important.”

Right after last week’s loss to Dundee United Jack and his backroom team were into full analysis mode right away.

“We’re adding in more and more analysis as a group and we are also starting to look at individual stuff. We did some stuff on Monday, individual stuff with players and we’re also looking at how we can adjust the training ground to make it even better for us to do the analysis in terms of equipment and the rooms that we work in. So there are all these plans in place and we’ll use these tools.

“On Monday we looked at some positive aspects from Saturday’s game. So we do that pretty much right away as we start to look at the game from Saturday evening through Sunday and then Euan that’s here who does the video analysis is very enthusiastic and good, but enthusiastic about wanting to learn and adapt to how myself and James [Fowler] works so he has been a great help in that regard as well.”

Next week it will primarily be about planning for the game away to Hibs but Jack also has his mind on the fact that after the trip to Easter Road it is only a few days later till Saints head to Greenock to face Morton.

“This week, although we have used it for conditioning, we have also started to bed in some patterns of play and some things we are looking from them in forward areas. This week it has been about the general things, we want to be the foundations of our play, we’ll start then prepping for Hibs from Monday onwards.”

“On Saturday I’m going to watch first Morton’s game then go over and watch Dunfermline-Hibs but we’ll still have our report done separately on the Hibs game as well so we’ll then look at what we are going to do for that game. But this week has been good as it has allowed us to try and bed in things that will be the foundation, or the core if you like, of how we will play moving forward.

“That is a quicker turn around in terms of your preparation [for the Morton game] because you don’t have the full week, but it’s not impossible. It is the balance between paying respect to the opposition and being aware of their strengths, but also having an identity about your own style of play. I wouldn’t necessarily say the system because that can changes at times but your style in terms of how hard you press, how hard you work to get the ball back.

“The quicker turn around makes it a wee bit more challenging but once we get the information it is the balance between making them aware of any areas that may cause you problems but also, more importantly, working on the areas that you think will cause opposition teams difficulties.”

Jack admits that he is enjoying the big games coming thick and fast and he is looking forward to the back to back matches against Hibs and Morton.

“That was the thing about last Saturday that was different again for me because my career as a player and as a coach has went in different ways, so I think to then go back into the environment on Saturday where there was a good crowd in a really good stadium, there was an atmosphere around that.

“That’s what I want to do, that’s what I want to be involved in so these two games that are coming up I like that. As a player I enjoyed it and as a manager I do genuinely still get that buzz and I hope that will never leave me as that is what you work towards. These two games that are coming up are hugely attractive for a variety of reasons, tough games but they’re ones that we’ll go to look and win.”

After the two away games Saints then have three home games on the spin, a run of games that Jack hopes starts a trend of The Paisley 2021 Stadium being a tough venue for any visiting side.

“They are vitally important as we need to make our stadium a difficult place to come to. We need to make it a place that teams feel as if they are going to have to play very, very well to take anything from. So those games will give us an opportunity but hopefully prior to that we will build momentum going in to them.

“I understand because of how the season has went that there can be that trepidation almost at times but I thought our supporters on Saturday were fantastic in that sense in that they remained positive and with us through the whole game. I need to make sure that they continue to do that but that is by giving them a performance that they can recognise will engage them. I think they did that last Saturday, but we will get better than that and that will help engage them as well.

“So these three games we can hopefully use to strengthen that relationship between us and the crowd, through that period that we can start to galvanise each other and move on together because that will be vitally important for us to get ourselves out of the position that we are in at the moment.”

Jack cut his coaching teeth as youth development coach at Hearts before taking the manager’s job at Alloa.  A role that he believes stands him in good stead as he helps out at the St Mirren Academy.

“The development squad, I’ve seen quite a lot of them because I’m in here all the time anyway. James has been away this week with his pro-licence, but Allan [McManus] and I took them out on Tuesday afternoon to give them some position specific sessions that I did before with clubs with some of the stuff that I had made up. It lets me get to know them, I also watched them [under-20s] at Kelty and I’ve had a few of them in training with me on a regular basis and kind of rotating that around, so from the development squad side of things I’ve seen a lot of them and I’m getting to know them.

“On Monday I worked right through and met the 13s and 14s who were in for training so I had a chat with them and their coaches. I’m going to do that regularly, be around the Academy, not to interfere with it but just to know that there is a genuine interest from me in how they are doing. I said to the 13s and 14s that I’ll get down to a game very soon on a Sunday as well. Think I said this before I got the job, that I wanted to immerse myself in the whole club and I’ll try to do that. I’ve got a lot of other things to think about but I’m getting there and it has been really good. I’ve crammed in a lot in a week and a half, the young kids I met were brilliant as their enthusiasm is terrific and sometimes it energises you as well.

“I think one of the biggest advantages is in my relationship with Allan McManus. I watched the last under-20 match and it was a difficult afternoon for them, there were factors as Dunfermline had their five over-agers and we had a really young team. Allan is obviously really disappointed after the game because he feels responsible as he is in charge and I’ve been on that side of it. The job he is doing can be hugely frustrating at times because you are trying to improve people all the time but they will mistakes both on and off the pitch so I think the fact that I can empathise with that all the time is a great thing because I’ve been there and I know how difficult it can be at times.

“I think certainly one of the big things is the relationship he then feels that he has got with the first team and the first team management in that he can come and speak to me about it. He can say that this is driving me nuts and I can say well I’ve been there and I know what it is like from experience so I think it is a healthy thing and it will hopefully help. If it helps Allan and Ross [Paterson] it should help the players as well, and then in the long run it should help the club.”

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