WITH the new season only days away now, Sunderland’s players will be concentrating on the West Brom game with the dreaded pre-season training now just a memory.
When I was a player, everybody in the dressing room knew how important the pre-season fitness regime was, but very few enjoyed doing it.
After a break of six to eight weeks, you can quickly lose your fitness and any players who enjoyed the summer break just a bit too much would pay the price when training resumed in July.
Morning and afternoon sessions of cross-country runs, uphill sprints and track work were the norm.
And I’ve seen some not so pretty sights of players flat on their backs with exhaustion and others being physically sick as the gruelling training drills took their toll.
I’ve got to admit I’ve been in both those categories.
My old room-mate Kevin Arnott had great skill and ability, but he was never a big fan of pre-season and would make the point that he is yet to see a football pitch with hills and mountains that you had to run up.
Five-a-sides and ball-work were more our cup of tea, but however much we complained, the fact was if you missed pre-season training or failed to take it seriously, you never catch up and will pay for it during the course of a nine-month campaign.
Playing football and getting well-paid for it really is living the dream, but ask any ex-pro and the one-time they don’t miss is when the holidays end and you report back.