Chris Basham believes that the style of training implemented by new manager Michael Appleton will begin to pay dividends for Blackpool on the pitch, as The Seasiders look ahead to two home games in four days.
Since arriving at the club just under a fortnight ago, Appleton has put the focus on increasing the fitness of his squad, in a bid to get them back up the Championship table.
“The way we’re training at the minute is really intense, but it’s something that we need,” Basham said.
“Saturday is probably the fittest I’ve felt during a game, I was able to carry on pushing forward right up to the end. I think that’s all down to the gaffer, Thommo and Ash.
“I’d say this week is his first proper week. Last week was more about everyone getting their bearings and getting used to each other. I think everybody loves him to be honest, the lads have really taken to him.
“I think the other main thing he’s brought in is to do with how we defend, making sure we defend as a unit. We’ll have little breaks in our training games where he gives us little hints about what he wants and what he thinks is good for us.”
Tom Ince’s late penalty against Bristol City on Saturday secured a fifth point in three games for the Tangerines, but Basham feels mixed emotions about events at Ashton Gate.
“I think we are happy with a point in that we did defend really well, but I still think, deep down, that we should’ve won that game. I think what was disappointing was that we weren’t clinical with our chances and the gaffer has spoken about that a lot.
“I think getting that the first goal is massively important for us at the minute. I think if we do get that it means teams come at us and it becomes easier for us to break them down and score more goals.”
The former Bolton man is enjoying a good run in the Blackpool first team, after finding himself sidelined for much of the early campaign. Having started the last three Championship fixtures, Basham is hoping he can continue that run on Saturday and nail down a permanent position in the Tangerines midfield.
“Thommo put me in on the Tuesday against Sheffield Wednesday and I don’t think I’ve looked back since. I’m really enjoying my football and I’m starting to get used to playing in midfield – I still think there are a few little things I need to work on – getting forward like I did in the second half against Bristol City and maybe getting into the box to see if I can notch a goal.”
This weekends visitors Watford, managed by Gianfranco Zola, are something of an unknown quantity in the Championship. A plethora of foreign loan arrivals, inconsistent form and an unusual 3-5-2 formation make the Vicarage Road club one of the league’s most intriguing sides.
For his part, Basham is confident that Blackpool can overcome any surprises the Hornets throw at them this weekend, as they look to arrest a run of home form which has left them winless in five.
“I believe we will put our home form right. To be honest, I don’t think we’re far away at all. Two home wins would set us up nicely and move us back towards the top six. I think that’s what we need - to put a good run together and then see if we can build from that.
“I don’t know many of Watford’s players, but obviously I know Gianfranco Zola is a very big character in the game and I’m sure there will be a lot of talented players in that team. We did some work on shape in training yesterday, looking at the way they’re going to play, and that was really interesting.”