QPR’S players continue to be pushed to their limits during their pre-season tour of Holland. They readily concede their preparation for the new campaign – already in its third week – is hard going, with Karl Henry confessing it is amongst the most difficult he has ever experienced.
But all the hard sessions have purpose as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink gets his squad in shape for the 2016/17 Championship campaign.
He has openly stated his preference for a high-intense, high-pressing approach, and Henry is certainly an advocate of that style.
“In the Championship, if you press teams high up the pitch you ask them the question - I love that style of defending,” he told www.qpr.co.uk from the team’s camp in Mill, in the south of the Netherlands.
“If you do it in the Premier League you tend to get punished because teams are so good under pressure.
“They can get out of your press and all of a sudden you can have six or seven players out of the game.
“In the Championship, against players who are not at the level of the Premier League, they can give the ball away and you are able to capitalise on it.
“I have worked under various managers who have been successful at this level, and I believe pressing high against 90 per cent of teams in the Championship will get you success.”
But, as Henry explains, pressing doesn’t come easy. It requires fitness, and organisation. Two elements which are being worked on during this lengthy seven-week pre-season.
“I have said previously we train harder and longer hours under the gaffer than perhaps other managers, and I felt we saw the benefits of that towards the back-end of last season,” Henry added. “This pre-season has been no different and is right up there with the toughest I have ever had.
“Pressing also requires intelligence. I heard people talking about football intelligence during the Euros and you definitely need that. It’s not about running around like a headless chicken like some may think, you need organisation and you need to be in sync with each other.
“That comes from practice and experience. You look at teams like Atletico Madrid, can they run quicker and further than everybody else? Probably not. But do they understand pressing better than most other clubs? 100 per cent.”
Having played two behind-closed-doors games against Eerste Divisie sides FC Oss and RKC Waalwijk already, and fixtures against Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven and top-flight side FC Groningen to come, there has been ample opportunity for the players to practice their pressing approach.
“Dutch teams play out from the back and even when you do get hold of it and nick the ball from them, they do it again and again and again, so it has been really useful for us,” he explained.
“Hopefully it will ready us for the type of football and pressing off the ball that we want to do.”
I believe pressing high against 90 per cent of teams in the Championship will get you success.