Versatile defender praises Swiss squad ethic
Cardiff City defender Matt Connolly has looked back on the squad's seven day Swiss stay with satisfication.
Speaking in Lausanne ahead of Sunday's flight back to the UK, 25 years old 'Connors' spoke in depth with press about the upcoming Barclays Premier League season, a summer of preparation and his pleasure in being a Bluebird.
“Everybody enjoyed our promotion season, we celebrated together and then went on holiday,” said the defender. “Now it’s back to work and it’s essential we are fitter than ever this time around.
“We will be playing against world class athletes at Barclays Premier League level. Mistakes or lacklustre performances will be punished. That’s why we have been focused on fitness during our training camp in Switzerland.
“The regime this past week has been tough, but if we start our season a lot fitter that helps. It’s about putting it in the bank now and reaping the rewards later.
“By 9pm every day, after two big sessions, we were shattered and ready to sleep. It can be tough getting through two sessions a day and getting up early each morning, but we know how much this will benefit us when our matches start.
“Our morning sessions were a bit more technical, but afternoons, when the heat died down a little, were fierce. This week was about laying the foundation for our fitness."
Reflecting on his first twelve months at Cardiff City and looking towards the future, Matt added: “On a personal level I see this as a crucial season. I have been involved in three successive promotions [whilst at QPR, Reading and Cardiff City], but now I want to play a full season at Barclays Premier League level. I’d swap all three promotions to achieve that, but hopefully this is my time.
“It wasn’t to be at the previous two clubs, but I believe it will be third time lucky. It was disappointing I didn’t get a massive chance before. I played a few Premier League games for QPR, while I joined Reading on loan and there was talk of a permanent move, but that didn’t happen.
“Looking back, though, it was a great choice to sign for Cardiff. I was a regular during our title-winning season and feel I did really well overall. The lads are great, the manager has been fantastic and I can’t wait to get started.
“It can be funny how things work out. As we go into 2013-14 Reading and QPR are in the Championship and Cardiff are a Premier club. Now our job is to make sure we stay.
“There are lessons to learn from how other clubs fared after promotion. You can learn from everybody. QPR decided to spend a lot of money which didn’t work, while Reading kept the same and some people question whether they went for it enough. Maybe it’s about finding the right balance.
“The manager here knows what he wants to do and has the basis of what I believe will be a competitive squad at the top level. Every one of the lads here is honest and hard working. We are hungry, we have desire to perform and make our mark. Whoever the manager brings in those already here will work even harder to prove they are better and deserve to start. That has to be the basis for our season.
“Even before more players are added, though, I believe we have a squad who can hold its own at Premier level.
“Look at last season when teams seemed to be there for the taking near the bottom. It was so close and seven or eight clubs were in danger of going down at one stage.
“We have a winning mentality from last season and I have never worked with such an honest group of lads. That team spirit and work ethic is a huge feature of our game.”
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