Rodwell backs Advocaat’s pre-season methods for Sunderland

Sunderland's Jack Rodwell.

Sunderland's Jack Rodwell.

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Dick Advocaat has done a pre-season or two over the last 30 years.

Neither the friendly defeats out here in North America, nor the heat and humidity, will faze Advocaat in activating the intricacies of his preparations to ensure Sunderland are ready for the Premier League opener at Leicester on August 8.

So far, Advocaat’s pre-season regime has been largely of the orthodox variety; daily double training sessions, other than Monday afternoon, when the players got a chance to stretch their legs around Toronto.

But while those training activities have included plenty of strength and conditioning work, football itself has not been sacrificed at the expense of fitness.

That was Paolo Di Canio’s undoing two years ago.

Sunderland’s players did run and run, but did little else, apart from when Di Canio himself wanted to show off his own pedigree when it came to crossing or shooting practice.

It was like a pre-season regime from the 1970s, when players sweated off the booze from their summer indulgence.

While Sunderland were physically fit by the time the campaign got underway, their match sharpness was severely lacking.

But as midfielder Jack Rodwell explains, Advocaat was keen to begin the ball-work as soon as Sunderland reported back for pre-season.

“It’s been tough so far, but it’s been sensible tough as well,” said Rodwell.

“The manager has obviously got a lot of experience, God knows how many pre-seasons he’s done now.

“He knows exactly what we’re doing and we’re all on it.

“Since day one, there’s been running with the ball, which makes the running a lot easier!”

The pre-season regime hasn’t corresponded with Sunderland impressing during their friendlies out here in North America - both games in California last week characterised by the Black Cats looking distinctly leggy.

But there has been minimal concern in the Sunderland camp at the defeats to Sacramento Republic and Club De Futbol Pachuca.

However, Rodwell does believe that Sunderland need to start showing signs of improvement in their remaining three friendlies – starting with tomorrow night’s clash against MLS outfit Toronto.

The £10million midfielder added: “The first few games are all about minutes.

“We still had a bit of jet lag remember after the flight to California.

“Those games are all about getting the travel and the summer out of our system.

“And then against Toronto, hopefully we’ll have a bit more fitness and we can up the performance levels.”