The changing face of pre-match preparation
The events of the past week have only reinforced the fact that football is a results based business, and that your ability as a manager or player is judged solely on a match day.
I am not suggesting that such a judgement is an unfair one, and indeed it is one that will most probably remain as consistent in the football future as it has in the past, and is in the present.
While the significance of a match day has remained untouched, there has undoubtedly been a big change in how both coaches and players prepare for this judgement day.
In my own experience, the differences were only evident in terms of the tempo and intensity of training and the individual ability of players as I progressed to better teams and leagues.
This was until I signed for Falkirk and the club began to base itself at the University of Stirling. I consequently embarked upon a significant strength and conditioning programme, made possible by the facilities and staff available at the University.
I have always been very open minded with regards to new training methods, especially those which could improve performance levels and prolong your career, but I am honest enough to admit that beginning such a different training regime at the age of 29 brought some challenges.
However, once my body adjusted to the demands of the new schedule, I certainly moved to a new level in terms of fitness and physique.
The strength and conditioning work was carried out alongside a regular testing programme where our body fats were monitored during 30 metre sprint tests, vertical jump tests and a "yo-yo" stamina exercise.
The frequency of these tests ensured that results consistently improved, and that I had to move with this improvement if I wanted to remain in the team.
It is still difficult to say for certain if this modern and ambitious training regime was responsible for the relative success the team had (in finishing seventh in consecutive seasons in the SPL) or whether manager John Hughes simply had a good side but it must have had some degree of influence upon our performance.
When I moved to St Mirren I found another management team keen to embrace progressive techniques and push to have the club finance individuals who help apply these methods.
An example of this at St Mirren is the work carried out by Grant Cassidy, our video analyst, who films each game and provides a DVD copy to every player who wants it.
He also compiles Prozone statistics which list an individual player's possession and passes totals, as well as pass completion success, number of tackles made, shots taken and so on.
I personally take great interest in the stats he provides, and they undoubtedly help to give you a more balanced reflection upon your performance.
In football there is often reluctance to change and a cynicism as to the benefits that can be achieved from it. Therefore the manner in which new methods are employed can be just as important.
For example, we are required to provide urine samples before training two or three times a week so that our sports scientist can measure our hydration levels. The results are always pinned up in the dressing room, but there is no punishment for those outside the required level of hydration.
That is because the manager has always emphasised that the testing is there to educate rather than being a threat, and in truth there are usually very few players not hydrated properly.
Hopefully this provides a brief insight into how much training methods have progressed. Performances will always be criticised but preparation and dedication shouldn't be...