FROM the moment he walked through the door, Paolo Di Canio has made no secret of his disappointment at the general conditioning and fitness levels of the players.
He has publicly stated that this area is one that he is particularly focusing on and promised that improvements will be made.
His demands can only be met by sheer hard work and by all accounts, players have been put through gruelling double and occasionally triple sessions a day.
So, come Saturday, this is something I’m going to be very interested in seeing and if it has worked, it will be of great benefit to the team.
I’ve always believed that playing football for a living is the best job in the world and I was lucky enough to do it.
But the only time you might doubt that, is the month of pre-season training which as any ex-player will tell you is something you just don’t miss about the game at all.
The funny thing is though that you can’t afford to miss out on it, as this is when you get your core fitness that sees you through the season.
If you miss out on your pre-season work, then you never really catch up, and for this reason, it’s probably the most important time of the year.
If all the players are fitter, that can only mean improvement to the team.
But individually, if I had to pick one who would benefit most, I would say Adam Johnson.
He had his moments last season, not least his goal at Newcastle, but he didn’t have enough of them for a player of his class.
A fully-fit and firing Adam Johnson can take his game to another level and with Paolo Di Canio’s tough love to motivate him, he can be our match-winner on a far more regular basis.