MY PRESEASON STORY JUST RAN AND RAN
AS A player, I probably fell into the ‘unlucky’ category when it came to pre-season. My managers were – in the politest sense – old school.
Micky Adams came from an era when everyone returned a stone overweight.
Mark McGhee and Gordon Strachan were proteges of the Aberdeen-era Alex Ferguson. Pre-season was constant running.
I remember, when I joined Celtic, I thought ‘Finally, this is going to be all high-tech and easy and modern’. It was the complete opposite.
Strachan did crosscountry run after crosscountry run. We went altitude training for a week in Switzerland and still ran around. It was horrendous.
In the early stages of the season, you were actually quite tired from the amount of running you’d done in July, and it wasn’t until the end of August or start of September that you started to feel match-fit.
Things have changed, though. When I played, the whistle would blow for the final game of the season and that was that. Now, they’ll do a kind of mini pre-season with heart monitors, tests and assessments.
A player might do a bleep test and get to level 16.
If he comes back in July and does 15.5, the manager knows there’s no point making him run.
Conversely, if you’ve enjoyed your holidays a bit too much and can manage only 12, things will be different.
And the fact is players are coming back almost as fit as they left, even down to the National League. In fact, many of them actually go back into training just to keep ticking over.
It means pre-season days are easier than they used to be. Nevertheless, I bet there are still one or two very sore players kicking about!