Since Sean Dyche’s arrival at Everton in January, there have been more hours set aside in the schedule for gym work, longer training sessions and a host of meticulously-prepared presentations in order to make the mid-season transition as smooth as possible.
“Working hard is the minimum,” explains Conor Coady, who turned 30 last month. “The gaffer is massive on that — and on raising the minimum.
“Hard work is important to play for any football club, but especially for this one, when you know what it means to supporters and everyone involved.
“[Dyche] been brilliant since he’s come in and we just want to keep on getting better the way he wants us to.
“Training has been solid, really tough, in a good way. There have been different sessions, which the gaffer believes we can benefit from and, of course, different voices.
“It’s up to us to step up to the plate and do what he’s asking to our maximum."
On top of those increased hours, Coady — along with teammates James Tarkowski, Michael Keane and Andy Lonergan — has recently signed up to complete his UEFA B Licence.
The coaching course, which has been designed to help individuals develop players’ technical, tactical, physical, psychological and social needs, has provided Coady — who admits football is constantly on his mind — with even more food for thought.
“I’m really enjoying it, I’ve caught the bug for it massively!” he admits. “Playing football is my life and I don’t know what I’d do without football. Having the chance to do this, as well as working under the manager, is really good.
“I’m trying to look at things in different ways.
“It’s brill. It’s better that we’re doing it with a few of us because it means we can feed off each other, bounce things off each other a lot more and there’s quite a bit of classroom stuff involved in it as well but even that we’re enjoying because we can do it together.
“We find ourselves sat down at lunch discussing certain ways of playing, different sessions you can put on and all of these kind of things.
“It’s important we keep enjoying it because without footy I’d have nothing to do.
“I am enjoying it but I’m not thinking too much about it in terms of being set on wanting to do this or that in the future. Playing football is what I’ve always done and I’m hoping there’s a long, long time to go yet in my career.
“I’ve always said to myself — and I know a few of the boys are the same — if we do it while we’re playing it might open our eyes a little bit in terms of helping us play as well, understanding the manager’s sessions more, why he’s doing them, what they consist of and all of that.”
On top of those theoretical lessons, Coady and teammates have been working with the Club’s Academy staff out on the grass to apply their new knowledge in a practical setting with coach Scott Phelan and assistant Jose Baxter, a long-term friend of Coady’s having played with the former Blues midfielder during a 12-month spell at Sheffield United.
“We’re doing it with the Under-15s and Under-16s at the minute,” Coady explains. “I hope they’re enjoying it, because we certainly are!
“We got out there last week at the end of the day and did our first one, then we’ve done some more this week.
“Scotty [Phelan] and Jose [Baxter] are fantastic to work with. They’ve given us loads of advice on how to do things, how to say things, asking questions… all of these tips.
“There’s a lot to take on but we really appreciate the opportunity to do it with them because they’re great coaches.”
Coady has found the two elements — applying a new manager's methods while learning more of the theory behind coaching — to be mutually beneficial.
“There has been a real focus on taking onboard the information and then applying it — and that’s what we need to do," he says. “I don’t think anyone is looking at it now and going, ‘What’s this? Everything is crystal clear.
“The gaffer, Woany [Assistant Manager Ian Woan] and Stoney [First-Team Coach Steve Stone] have all been brilliant in that respect.
“They’re real, real good people first and foremost and they’ve brought so much to the Club in terms of what they do on the pitch, the sessions they take — but I think more as people… it’s not that they demand respect but they’re very respected people.
“You can have a conversation with them, you can bounce things off them, you can go to them for advice and they’re really open-minded.
“The lads have taken to it but there’s still a lot of improving to do and a lot of points to play for that we need to pick up.”
The interview above is an excerpt from an exclusive feature with Conor Coady in the Official Matchday Programme for last month's visit of Aston Villa. Click here to purchase any programme from this season now.