In your working life you always have targets to meet, goals and aspirations, things to look forward to, whether that is job related or personal.
That’s how North End’s newest recruit Aiden McGeady has been feeling in the last year. He hasn’t pulled on a shirt of parent club Everton in anger since August 2015 – so to play 90 minutes in games on Saturday and Tuesday, back-to-back, after signing for the Lilywhites showed how well he has looked after himself in the time since.
And when he sat down with The One And Only at Springfields this week, he admitted that he was getting that buzz back that comes with knowing there is something to look forward to at the end of the week; his bread is definitely in the oven and rising nicely!
“At times last season at Everton I was just training from Monday to Friday and having the weekend off, almost like a normal job, but there was nothing to look forward to at the end of the week, which is what football is all about, you work hard to be involved on a Saturday,” he explained to the matchday programme.
“So from that sense I probably lost a little bit of focus.
“I never lost motivation, because I always wanted to train hard and get my place back in the team, but when you see every Saturday that you are not playing and not even in the squad, you probably lose a little bit of enjoyment or maybe passion, but I am getting that back now, because I am playing football again.
“The games are coming thick and fast now. I know some people think it’s hard in the Championship, with games coming every three or four days, but at the minute I am enjoying it. When you go that long without playing, you want to play every game. I am just trying to get used to being a footballer again!
“I am enjoying the games coming every few days; the last week has been like a breath of fresh air for me.
“I can’t even tell you the last time I have played two 90 minutes on a Saturday and Tuesday back-to-back. I hardly ever completed 90 minutes at Everton; if I started I would be taken off after an hour or 75 minutes and then I probably wouldn’t play the next game, so it is brilliant that the gaffer has straight away showed a lot of faith in me and kept me on for the full 90.
“I am absolutely delighted and I just want to keep working on my fitness. The last ten or 15 minutes of both games I have felt a bit sluggish, a bit tired, but that is to be expected, however, with games I am hoping that will improve.
“It would have been the icing on the cake if we had won the Barnsley game – that is the main thing – but I maybe could have scored again in the first game and then I could have scored as well against Cardiff, so there’s still improvement. The Barnsley game was disappointing that we didn’t win and we needed a big win against Cardiff and we got it and hopefully now we can get a bit of momentum going and put a bit of a run together, putting some victories together.
“I have been given that freedom by the gaffer to go and express myself. It has been a little bit strange for me, because I am normally used to just hugging the touchline, or I was before. I have played No.10 before, but the system the gaffer wants us to play, he wants the width to come from the full backs or wing backs and I am inside of that.
“It is ideal for me, especially against Barnsley when there was space in there and people could find me with the ball and I could be on the half turn and up against the defence. You can thread passes through or you can go yourself, rather than just being tied to the touchline, it is good for me.
“It is refreshing, because the manager has just said to go and enjoy my football; don’t worry if you lose the ball, if you do then just keep getting it and trying to make things happen.
“It is to be expected that it will take time for the lads to understand my runs and balls and vice versa, because we have only been training together for just over a week now. It takes time to get to know everyone’s different habits and likewise it takes time for them to know how to read what I am going to do when I get the ball, whether I am going to turn and run or pass the ball first time or whatever, but so far it is going well and I can’t ask for any more. Hopefully that continues and we can get some more good results.”
You can read plenty more from Aiden in Saturday’s 100-page edition of The One And Only, plus there are features with Neil Mellor, Chris Maxwell, Stevie May, Simon Makienok, Marnick Vermijl and Paul Gallagher. The programme will be on sale from Friday afternoon from the Sir Tom Finney Stand ticket office or from sellers inside and outside the ground on matchday.