Dale Tonge: Who is the new member of the Hearts coaching team?
Former Barnsley man links up again with Stendel
Dale Tonge has joined Hearts' coaching staff as Daniel Stendel is reunited with his right-hand man from Barnsley. Here's the lowdown on the 34-year-old former Rotherham and Torquay player...
14-year playing career
A Barnsley native, Tonge began his career with the Tykes and made his first-team bow in 2003. Able to play at right back or in midfield, he was part of the team that won the League One play-off in 2005. He made just 47 appearances for the Oakwell side and, after a brief loan spell with Gillingham, joined Rotherham United on a permanent deal in 2007.
While at the Millers, he won promotion from League Two after Rotherham finished runners-up in the 2012/13 season and played 174 times, scoring once and registering 14 assists.
He left the New York Stadium in 2013, joining Torquay United and making 56 appearances over two seasons. The Gulls suffered relegation to the National League and Tonge played 17 times before brief stints at Chester, Stockport County and FC United of Manchester.
Role at Hearts?
Tonge was named Daniel Stendel's No.2 at Barnsley on 24 January 2019, and was plucked from the club's Under-16s to serve as the German's right-hand man. Speaking to Training Ground Guru (TGG) earlier this month, the 34-year-old hinted at what he might bring to Hearts.
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."
During his brief time at Hearts so far, Stendel has occasionally made use of midfielder Peter Haring as an interpreter during matches. The Austrian has been seen on the bench and has helped to relay messages to the team. Tonge is likely to take on this role having done similar at Barnsley.
Big on analysis
Tonge is likely to be the man in contact with the analysts, who take in the game from a higher vantage point than those on the bench.
"The players have grown up with technology and if you give them the opportunity to use it, they jump at it.
"You can feed them information, but if they can see it and interact with it, which is what we can do now with video platforms like Hudl, it becomes very powerful," Tonge told TGG.
At Barnsley, the club would send players individual clips to their mobile phones as well as installing iPads at the training ground and TV screens to show loops of footage and analysis in a bid to drill its importance into the squad.
“When you’re doing your pre-match analysis and preparation it’s vital that the players are engaged and that they understand, because you just don't have time during the matches," he added.
Tonge is also likely to take a lead on player development, as he did at Barnsley.
In his interview with TGG he said: “Obviously the emphasis is on three points on a Saturday, but we were still looking to develop players.
“I worked individually with the lads, trying to develop them as footballers and as people, as well as in units."