Barry Robson admits he got a major surprise when he hung up his boots this summer and took the step into coaching at Aberdeen… he couldn’t believe how tiring it is. But the former Celtic and Scotland midfielder insists he is loving his new role.
Robson was a member of the Pittodrie coaching staff this week in Latvia as they comfortably disposed of Ventspils on their way to a professional 4-0 aggregate Europa League win.
The ex-Dundee United and Middlesbrough midfielder retired in the summer and moved on to Derek McInnes’s coaching staff.
But if the 37-year-old thought he would be able to get a rest after a near 20-year career in which he collected 17 caps for his country, he admits he has been shocked by the mental intensity of his new role.
He explained: “You miss playing of course, but I’ve been so busy that you don’t have too much time to think about that aspect of it. A lot of it has been about sitting back and learning.
“I’ve been watching the gaffer, Tony Docherty and Paul Sheerin and learning about how much attention to detail goes into things. I’ve been in the game a long time, but you realise the work that goes into it and that takes time to get used to. I’m enjoying it and obviously wins help.
“It’s been hard work and a lot different from what I’m used to, but it’s something I always wanted to get into but I’ve had eyes opened a fair bit.
“It’s been no problem making the transition from player to coach. That part of it doesn’t really bother me. To go in and coach players that I know isn’t really an issue for me.
“But I’ve found it more tiring than playing. It’s mentally a lot more tiring. There’s a lot more hours. You can’t switch off. You’re studying the game a lot more, there’s a lot of video work and planning.
“I haven’t switched off for a while but that’s the nature of the game and that’s why we’re in football – because we’re obsessed with it. Football is what you think about constantly.
“It hasn’t changed in that sense but the difference is you used to think about yourself and how you could make yourself better but now you’re thinking about how you make players better and make yourself better so it’s a double dunt.”
Aberdeen will have to try to do what Celtic, Rangers and Hibs have tried and failed to do in recent years and knock out Maribor in the next round.
Robson revealed that preparations for the tie under McInnes started immediately.
He stated: “We know Maribor will be really hard. We just finished the game in Latvia and we were sitting on the bus and watching Maribor for 45 minutes – that’s the way the manager works.
“I think the manager told us to enjoy the Ventspils win for 20 minutes and then move on. That’s the way it should be – no stone is left unturned.
“I’m trying to do a whole spectrum of things which is enjoyable, but the mental side of things has been the surprise. I realised when I was a player a lot of work went into it but Derek McInnes is a lot more meticulous than a lot of managers.
“Derek covers a lot more things than a lot of other mangers. He’s great to work for, but you need to be on your toes and be sharp which is good. He’s demanding which is the best bit because it will make me better.
“I’m working with the younger players and the first team players. I’m covering all the things that need to be done.”