JAMES Hanson is remarkably relaxed about the change of playing style expected from City this season.
Saturday’s friendly win at Guiseley was the first evidence in a shift of philosophy as they look to play through a narrower midfield diamond.
Phil Parkinson’s City have been synonymous with 4-4-2, with crosses and long passes looking to hit the head of Hanson.
At Nethermoor, we saw a switch in system to a link player operating in the hole between the strikers and a three-man cover.
It will suit the likes of Billy Clarke and Mark Yeates down to the ground; but how about a traditional centre forward?
Hanson is up for the challenge. He sees it as an opportunity to demonstrate that there are more strings to his bow than simply the bonce that gets on the end of everything.
He said: “I want to show people that I’ve got more to my game than just flicking balls on all the time. I can adapt to it.
“It was a bit strange on Saturday because we’d not played the diamond formation much last year.
“I know it was only a friendly but you’re having to concentrate on making different sort of runs to get on the ball because there’s always the man free behind you.
“It’s quite hard but I’m sure we’ll adapt to it better with more work on the training ground and playing games.
“I’m confident I will score goals in this side and we’ll have a good go this year.
“All the lads coming in are ball players. People like Billy Clarke and Billy Knott are very good technically.
“It’s just getting the balance right and fitting them all in because obviously you’ve got Yeatesy there as well. It’s going to be a tough decision for the gaffer but one that I’m sure he will welcome.”
Hanson did not get on the scoresheet during his 45-minute outing, even though all three City goals came during that first period.
But he was just glad to be involved again after the nagging back and groin issue that had brought his previous campaign to such a shuddering halt.
Hanson said: “I’ve really missed it. We’ve had a decent break but I’d probably been looking forward to the first game more than anyone.
“It’s been massively frustrating for me. It seems like ages since I last played.
“But I’ve got away, had a few breaks, and come back raring to go. I’ve had the right medication and feel 100 per cent now.
“The problem’s behind me now and I can’t wait to get going with a new season and the different style.”
Hanson is a veteran of City’s Ireland tours since Parkinson took charge. They might have upgraded their training base from the last two years but the big striker knows exactly what will be in store for the players over the coming days.
And the new arrivals have been quick to tap in to that knowledge so they are forewarned about the sessions that head of sports science Nick Allamby has drawn up.
Hanson said: “Usually Nick sticks to the same fitness programme for pre-season, so I’ve been telling them what to expect.
“The lads are always asking me about what run we’re going to have that afternoon and things like that – and 99 per cent of the time I can guess it right!
“But these trips are great. We’ve got a lot of new lads in and they’ve all settled well already but this week will really help.
“It’s just going to be a working trip, as Nick says. We can’t expect any easy days. We’re definitely going to come back a lot fitter and sharper.”
Ireland is a well-worn path for so many clubs – Wolves and MK Dons are currently over there as well. They face Bohemians and Bray Wanderers respectively tomorrow night, familiar opponents from City’s last two visits.
Hanson said: “I think it does make a difference. As the gaffer says, the Irish teams are halfway through the season, so they have a lot more match sharpness.
“You notice that straight away in the games because they are a lot quicker on the ball. That makes it a really good work-out for us.
“It’s nice to get that fitness in you to be ready for the new season. We’ve got a longer period this time before the first game so we can get prepared properly and hopefully get off to a good start like last year.”