The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP -

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!

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