Edinburgh City head coach Daniel Pratt sat down with the Associated Press this week to discuss the club’s early season form, new training schedule and how his new signings are settling in. Arriving at their training centre, the ‘Citizens’ coach seemed relaxed and in a very talkative mood as he discussed a number of topics in this wide ranging press conference.
Asked about how the training schedule has changed things at the club, Pratt responded “I’m delighted the club were able to double the number of training sessions this season, the extra time available has meant that we can focus more on specific training needs with players as well as the more traditional game-play, tactical aspects. With more regular training sessions, we have seen players pick up new skills far quicker than in previous seasons and the progression being made is good to see.”
The first team have had a mixed start to the season, with wins against Saint Andrews and Dundee being offset by losses to last year’s champions Mavericks and a surprise loss to Edinburgh University. Pratt was asked how he felt the side had started this season and if he had any concerns with the results. “I’m not overly worried with the start to the season, we are going through a transition period at the moment and it was always likely that it would take some time to adapt. We’ve brought in some new players and it can sometimes be hard to settle in to a new system and style of playing but I’m really pleased to see the effort and application all players are putting in.”
The coach was quick to remind those attending that although the firsts had started slowly the reserves had begun the defence of their SKL2 crown in some style last weekend. “It’s always been a huge positive for the club to have strength in depth and with the second team you can see that clearly. After winning back-to-back titles, they have come out quickly again this season winning their opening games by large margins and showing some great promise. It’s important that during a rebuilding process that you have a good foundation and the club clearly has the right base to build from.”
The offseason saw a number of new faces join the club with City’s transfer spending continuing long after the season opener last month. There are whispers around the training facility that ECKC may still have another couple of signings to make in the coming weeks. With this, Pratt was pressed on how the new signings were fitting in and whether we could expect to see yet more players join the roster before the window closed.
“I’m pleased that the club has managed to get deals negotiated for a number of high-calibre signings, we lost a few key players in the off season and it was important that we looked to replace them as well as build on the existing squad we have.”
Last season’s top female scorer Ella Paul has joined cross town rivals Edinburgh University on loan for the season, along with Mark ‘Goose’ Goosens taking time out of the game for family reasons. On top of this, ECKC lost Daniel van Amersfoort to a career-ending injury just before the season started.
“The players the club have brought in are great signings” Pratt continued “They have some experience of playing in the league already and are all at the stage in their careers where they will grow and develop very quickly. The desire to learn in training has been refreshing and it’s exciting to be able to see them improve as the season goes on.”
Edinburgh City made a number of young signings, with Kitty Dutton, Alex Johnston and Michael Garbutt transferring from Edinburgh University and the dynamic pairing of Nina Murdoch and Heather Mackintosh from Saint Andrews over the summer. Coach Pratt explained what it means for the club to have these players join “For me it’s essential that we brought in young players who are hungry. We have a lot of experience at the club and combining that with the raw energy the new players bring should make for an exciting blend this year.”
With the transfer deadline closing in, a number of journalists were keen to find out who the Citizens coach was looking to bring in after speculation had been growing over the past few days. Pratt responded delicately saying “I don’t like to talk about players who have not yet signed. Until they are a part of the club then it’s important not to get carried away with the rumours but I can say that the club is very close to bringing in perhaps two more players. I’m afraid that you will have to wait for the news along with our fans for who they are.”
As the press conference came to an end, the enigmatic coach was asked about his predictions for the rest of the season. He declined to speculate on who would take the title and where City may end up this season but did give some views on the league “I think it’s going to be a competitive season, Glasgow have made a number of good signings and have Calum Lindsay back from injury which will be a boost. Dundee have brought in McNulty to team up with Robertson (both ex-City players) and will look to improve on last year. I think after last season it’s always going to be difficult to look past Mavericks as front-runners especially after signing international stars Angus Davidson and Miriam Kleen. The whole league looks to have gained on where they were at this point last year so it’s exciting to see it play out over the next few months.”
At this point Pratt brought an entertaining briefing to a close and made his way over to the training court thanking journalists as he exited the conference room.