The South Melbourne senior mens team returned to Lakeside on Wednesday night for the first session in their pre-season preparations for 2016. New signings Marcus Schroen, Zaim Zenelli, Jason Hicks and Matt Foschini joined the squad together with a number of players trialling under the watchful eye of Chris Taylor.
The club and Taylor continue to enhance the pre-season program each year and this first session was no different. Twenty four players from the senior squad, Under 20s and those trialling took to the pitch for a variety of fitness exercises and drills throughout the ninety minute session.
Team Physio James Cole spent time working with Kristian Konstantinidis and Michael Eager as they recover from injuries and goal keeping coach Bojo Jevdjevic put Nikola Roganovic, Zaim Zenelli and Rory Brian through their paces.
Chris Taylor spoke to smfc.com.au about the new signings and the squad ahead of the 2016 campaign saying “we are very happy with the new signings. it’s the culmination of two years of work where we have retained the bulk of the squad. We’ve added to it just to top things off and bought in some more quality. I’m still hopefully we use the other visa spot and bring one more player in but its not a case of panicing or anything like that. The way we’ve done it has been a little bit under the radar and like I say our squad now has been two years in the making and not a knee jerk reaction to what happened during the season.”
Stability in the senior squad was noticeable heading into the 2015 season some twelve months ago and was reflective in the dynamics on the pitch and the knowledge in the players teammates and what to expect. This approach is set to continue into 2016 with Taylor explaining “a lot of us felt it was a bit disappointing the way the season ended last year, but if you analyse it winning the Cup and the League it wasn’t that bad an effort. We’ve won the League the last two years so it’s not like you have to go and change the whole squad and bring in new players because you weren’t happy with them.”
“I think there are areas we can improve on and that’s what we are aiming to do. The fact of the matter is these boys have played together and a lot of the other teams out there will have to gel together whereas we have the experience with the bulk of the squad having two years under their belt.”
The players will take a break over the Christmas and New Year period before coming back together for the remainder of the pre-season. A trip away to Sydney is on the cards (details to be released soon) before the club’s first competitive match against Bentleigh Greens in the Community Shield.
Taylor was clear of his vision for player preparation coming into February and the start of the season saying “we are looking to get some kind of consistency with the players so the new boys know how we play and what we want to do. It’s trying to get a consistent level of quality that maybe we didn’t have last year. I thought we ground out games well last year but probably didn’t play as much football as what we would have liked to have done. So its about trying to get the ball on the deck and playing like we know we can and dictating to other teams rather than allowing teams to boss us around a bit.”
The squad continues their pre-season training three days a week at both Lakeside Stadium and Albert Park.