'A control manager' - Daniel Stendel's former assistant gives insight into how Hearts boss approaches training and games

German was keen for Dale Tonge to join him in Edinburgh but move didn't transpire

Friday, 17th January 2020, 4:00 pm
Daniel Stendel gives instructions to Sean Clare from the touchline using a tactics board

Dale Tonge, Daniel Stendel's assistant during his spell as Barnsley boss, has given an insight into how the German approaches training and games.

Speaking to Training Ground Guru, the 34-year-old revealed how he was catapulted from working with the club's Under-16s to Stendel's right-hand man nearly 12 months ago after the former Hannover 96 head coach phoned him while he was out walking his dog.

Tonge served as Stendel's No.2 as the Oakwell side won promotion from League One, and stayed alongside him as the club attempted to find their feet in the Championship. Although he stayed on after Stendel's departure in October, he eventually left following the arrival of Gerhard Struber in late November.

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His position as Stendel's go-to man means he is well-versed in the manager's approach to training and match days - and what role Jorg Sievers may have.

'A control manager'

Describing Stendel as a "control manager", Tonge explained how training sessions were orchestrated.

"He would usually want me to start the training session and then take the main part himself, while the other coaches would watch and feed back.

"With the first team, it was multi-disciplinary - with sports science, medical and analysis all involved - and the make-up of the session would depend on the players' level of fatigue, whether they had played Saturday-Tuesday or not."

Language barrier

During his brief time at Hearts so far, Stendel has made use of injured midfielder Peter Haring as a casual interpreter during matches. The Austrian has been seen on the bench and has helped to relay messages to the team.

Former Rotherham and Torquay defender Tonge pointed out that he took on a similar role at Barnsley due to difficulty in passing on instructions from the bench.

"It would be two or three words, maximum a sentence at a time. If you're constantly shouting, then maybe five per cent of the information will be taken in, five per cent will be ignored and 90 per cent won't be heard."

Tonge would also be connected via earpiece to the club's analyst, who would take in the game from the gantry - a higher vantage point than his colleagues on the bench.

"He was the one we'd worked with on all the tactical stuff during the week, and would be coding the game live. If he spotted something we might not have at ground level then he'd let me know and I could pass that on," he added.


Eagle-eyed fans may also have spotted binders on the Hearts bench, or a mini tactics board. Tonge revealed that these folders and boards are full of the "what-ifs".

"There are diagrams of what the opposition do in different shapes, what they do if they go down to ten men, what they do if they make a certain substitution. Also set pieces, both for and against.

"These are all things you've worked on during the week summarised in diagrams, because you don't have time to go through a lot of information during a match.

"If the manager decides to make a sub, you've probably got a maximum of 90 seconds with the player before they go on. That's why the preparation during the week is so crucial."