1st September 2011: Paulo Sergio, Sergio Cruz and Gary Locke
The first of our monthly dinners for 2011-2012 took place on the 1st September, a week later than usual due to the club’s involvement in Europe, and we were very fortunate, at late notice, to welcome as guests, Manager Paulo Sergio and two of his coaching team Sergio Cruz and Gary Locke.
After an excellent meal, Paulo and his team took to the stage to answer questions from an audience of more than 200 members and guests.
The vast majority of the questions naturally centred on team selection, tactics, players and coaching.
As has been obvious from watching recent games, Paulo is very keen to have the team passing the ball patiently moving the ball up the park waiting for a situation to exploit. As he says the ball moves quicker by passing than running with the ball and high balls up the park generally mean a loss of possession to the opposition. He says the players are learning quickly to adapt to the style of football he wants to play but it will take time. He has also changed the weekly training schedule. The players are used to having a Wednesday off but Paulo has cancelled this believing that players should work hard on their fitness up to mid week and then keep their fitness topped up for the game at the weekend. He also is a firm believer in players practising their skills at the Academy in the afternoon. Practice makes perfect!
On team selection, Paulo would have liked to have added a central defender and midfielder to the squad before the January deadline. Although he is happy with Webster and Zaliukas in the central defence he feels there is no cover there for injuries and suspensions. He had two players in mind, a Portuguese and French player and was disappointed that they could not be signed before the deadline. On the injury front he feels it will be a number of weeks before Kevin Kyle and Suso are fit to play for the first team. On being asked why he has left out John Sutton since he scored two goals against Aberdeen , he said that he felt Sutton was a slower player than he likes up front, although a good finisher, but the coaching team are working on this.
When asked about working with Scottish players, Coach Sergio Cruz stated that he is very much enjoying his time in Scotland. He has worked with Paulo for many years and advised that Scottish players are different than their counterparts in Portugal. The Scots work and train harder and are keen to learn. He has changed the training schedule getting the players to train with the ball rather than concentrating on running. This he hopes will result in the players being more comfortable on the ball and using it and thinking more quickly. He hopes that training will be more interesting for them as well.
Gary Locke is very much enjoying the new regime at Tynecastle. As a young coach he is very keen to learn new things. While justifiably retaining a great respect for Jim Jefferies, he said it was great for him to work under a different Manager and is learning all the time. It was quite clear to the audience that the coaching staff all get on very well.
Youth development at the club is clearly very important to Paulo. One of the coaching team regularly watch the youth teams at training and it is clear that they have a very high regard for John and Darren Murray. Paulo proved his point by bring on Kevin McHattie late in the Aberdeen game that he is keen to blood young players at the appropriate time for the player and the team.
While Gary Locke’s devotion and hard work for the Club as well as his support for the Association is well known it was evident from the Q and A session that Paulo and Sergio are also professional individuals who are very keen to do their best for themselves and the Club and we wished them a long, successful and happy time in Edinburgh. In return, Paulo replied that he was delighted to come along to the dinner and would be very happy to come back any time we asked.