THERE may not be any matches to play in the coming weeks, but Argyle Director of Football Neil Dewsnip and his colleagues are still hard at work behind the scenes.
Neil is in regular dialogue with the Pilgrims’ manager Ryan Lowe, as well as his assistant, Steven Schumacher, with work very much ongoing to ensure that the Greens enjoy a successful end to the current Sky Bet League Two season - and beyond.
“I’m in day-to-day contact with Ryan, and we have spent the time doing a lot of looking at the potential squad we would have for next season,” said Dewsnip. “We’re using this period to plan around talent identification and potential recruitment. With that, there is a frustration, of course, because we don’t know when we can actually start that process.
“We’re both incredibly respectful of what’s going on out there, and I can’t stress enough that we’re behind the NHS and the roles that they have at this time. We are football people, though, and we want to be training and playing games. Ryan typifies that incredibly, as does Steven, they are both full-on, highly motivated and full of personality.”
According to Neil, laying the groundwork for recruitment is just one task on the Greens’ to do list, with staff at Home Park keen to make the best of their coronavirus-enforced break.
“From time to time, they [coaching staff] are finding it frustrating, as am I, but it’s really about developing a mindset where we can see it as an opportunity, and the opportunity rests around self-improvement,” said Neil.
“Ryan is diving completely into his [UEFA] Pro Licence course, which is a really good use of time. Steven has spent a lot of time looking at our own team performance with Jimmy Dickinson, and he’s looking through stacks of data, which he is throwing at me, and it’s about helping us to become a better team.
“An example of that might be looking at the goals we’ve conceded all season, and seeing if there are trends as to why that happens – and if there are, can we do anything about it? Using this time sensibly presents a rare opportunity for us.
“Football people tend to live their lives on the run – from a training session, to a match, to watch a game, to talk about players, to go to a staff meeting – it never ends,” said Neil. “That can lead very often to decisions being made too quickly, possibly, at times. We have a lot of time on our hands at the moment, and it allows us to meet regularly to talk about recruitment, training, individual improvements and team improvements.”
This approach is not just confined to the first-team staff, though. Leaning on his decades of experience at the highest levels of the game, including with England and Everton, Neil is leading delivering professional development sessions with members of staff across the club.
“We have used the time wisely for some CPD events for the Academy,” said Neil. “We are doing those weekly, where I’m holding workshops with all the staff. That’s been time well spent as well. Actually, there’s an awful lot going on, it’s just different.”
"I am in regular contact with Phil Stokes [Academy Manager], and we are looking at ways to enhance our Academy provision. Of course, we were coming up to a crucial time for decision making regarding our under-18 players, as well as under-23.
"That is a frustration, but we will have pause that for now - just like clubs up and down the country are doing."